28 people working on Eglinton Crosstown LRT test positive for COVID-19
TORONTO -- Twenty-eight Crosslinx employees and subcontracted staff working on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT have tested positive for COVID-19 over the past two weeks.
A spokesperson for Crosslinx- which is overseeing the construction of Toronto’s new rail line- confirmed the cases in a statement to CP24 Thursday morning.
The 28 infected employees work at eight different sites and tested positive over the last 14 days.
Seventeen of the cases are believed to be community acquired, while 10 were infected at work and one has yet to be determined, Crosslinx said.
“Right now, there are about 70 Crosslinx employees and subcontracted workers who are self-isolating because of a potential exposure,” the statement read.
Crosslinx was hired by Ontario’s transportation agency, Metrolinx, to build the 25-stop LRT that is expected to provide a midtown connection between east and west Toronto.
Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins said Crosslinx is responsible for running safe work sites to minimize COVID-19 transmission.
“We are monitoring the situation on Crosslinx Transit Solutions (CTS) sites closely to ensure they remain accountable to the requirements of our contract. The Ministry of Labour will also act independently within its authority, to make sure CTS lives up to its obligations to provide a safe environment both on and around their construction sites,”Aikins said in a statement to CP24.
Since the pandemic began in March 2020, 65 people who work at one of Crosslinx’s 24 construction sites between Black Creek Drive and Kennedy Road have tested positive for the virus, Crosslinx said.
There are roughly 1,500 people working on sites at any given time but individual workers can change depending on work activities, Crosslinx said.
The construction and design consortium said it has been reporting cases to Toronto Public Health since last March.
Crosslinx also said that their construction sites have been visited 27 times by the Ministry of Labour (MOL) between Mar. and Dec. 2020. Twenty-three orders were issued during this time, including more hot water at wash stations, cleaning wash facilities, wearing masks when not socially distanced and social distancing on breaks.
The cases at Crosslinx sites come as the city copes with increasing cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus amid a provincewide lockdown that began on Dec. 26.
On Wednesday, Toronto Public Health reported 837 new cases of COVID-19 and five more deaths.
Crosslinx said it is coping with “significant delays” on LRT construction due to the global pandemic.
In Oct., Crosslinx initiated legal action against Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario in response to “their refusal to declare COVID-19 an emergency” and recognize the impacts the pandemic is having on the project.
“The extent of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the project schedule is yet to be determined. This requires extensive consultation with Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario, and our legal action is one step in that process,” the statement read.
Aikins said “there is no doubt” that there have been impacts from COVID-19 on the project but Metrolinx disputes Crosslinx’s claims.
“The matter between the parties is specific to their claim for compensation being inconsistent with what’s entitled under the contract. There are many businesses who have had to shoulder their part of getting through the pandemic and CTS is no different,” she said.
Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario awarded the LRT contract to Crosslinx in July 2015 and the line was set to be completed by 2022.