Vaccine prioritization is in place for a reason

Yellow tape labelled 'quarantine'

Vaccine prioritization is a sign our healthcare system is working, giving vaccines to those who need it most. Yet the recent Rodney Baker scandal proves that, even at a time when class differences are exacerbated, the rich will always find a way to put themselves first.

Former casino CEO Rodney Baker and his wife, Ekaterina, were recently charged after they flew a chartered plane to Beaver Creek, Yukon, misrepresented themselves as workers at a local motel, and received COVID-19 vaccines.

The fact that the Bakers could get vaccinated without a Yukon health card, or proof of who they truly were, is troubling in itself. What’s worse is the overt selfishness of the wealthy couple.

Beaver Creek is a small community, mostly made up of First Nations residents—many of whom are Indigenous elders. The Bakers not only took vaccines away from those who needed them more, but directly put the town’s vulnerable population at risk by failing to quarantine.

This isn’t just a case of rich people cutting the line; it’s an example of privileged people directly taking advantage of a marginalized community.

What’s more, wealthy individuals are faring better in this pandemic than anyone else. They can afford to work from home, take time off, and pay for groceries to be delivered. The Bakers, and anyone else with high incomes, have no reason to go out.

The fact that Rodney Baker was a CEO at the time of his crime, in addition to the private plane he and his wife chartered, speak volumes to the pair's means. If they were concerned about catching COVID-19, there was a simple solution to their problems: just stay home.

Ekaterina herself took to Instagram earlier in the pandemic to urge others to stay home, a direct contrast to her and her husband’s actions. It’s also another display of the hypocrisy we’ve seen frequently among celebrities over the past year regarding COVID-19 restrictions.

Despite what they did, the Bakers were charged with a mere $500 fine each for failing to quarantine. Though they’ve received public backlash, leading Rodney Baker to resign as CEO of his company, their punishment hardly fits the crime.

Vaccine prioritization is in place for a reason. Our healthcare system isn’t without its flaws, but right now prioritizing vulnerable populations who need vaccines the most is a testament to its strength.

If Canada wants its citizens to trust in the system, it must punish those who seek to corrupt that system, like the Bakers. By failing to give the Bakers more than a slap on the wrist, the government shows that its wealthier citizens can get away with anything—for the right price.

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