28 workers test positive for Covid on major Toronto transit scheme

The joint venture building a major light rail scheme in Toronto says at least 28 workers have recently tested positive for Covid-19 and another 70 are isolating, drawing a cautionary message from the project’s client.

Crosslinx Transit Solutions (CTS), comprising ACS-Dragados, Aecon, EllisDon and SNC-Lavalin, is building the 19km-long, 25-station Eglinton Crosstown LRT line.

Three months ago CTS sued its clients Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario for not recognising Covid as an emergency (see below).

On Wednesday it said the new cases were found at eight sites among employees and subcontractors.

Seventeen of the people caught the disease in their communities, while 10 were infected at work. One case is undetermined, said a spokesperson, reports industry publication On-Site.

The latest outbreak brings the tally of Covid cases on the project to 65 since March.

CTS is issuing formal written notices to workers warning them about not adhering to Covid guidelines.

"While the majority of workers are complying, we know some aren’t," the spokesperson said.

None of the sites have been closed but some have been hit with disruptions owing to absent workers.

CTS began work on the LRT scheme in 2015 following a contract award by Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario.

"Hoping for a full recovery for all Crosslinx workers," tweeted Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins.

She added: "Constructors are entrusted with a critical responsibility to run a safe site – this includes ensuring protections are in place (and followed) for their employees to minimize transmission of COVID-19."

CTS sued its clients over Covid in October last year, saying they had refused to declare the pandemic an emergency "and recognise the significant impacts the global pandemic is having on Eglinton Crosstown LRT construction".

Metrolinx hit back, accusing CTS of using Covid "to excuse its years of poor performance" on the project.

Metrolinx chief executive Phil Verster wrote at the time: "On February 18, 2020, well before COVID-19 hit us, we already declared that CTS was not going to meet their completion date of September 2021 and that the project was unfortunately going to be delayed well into 2022. Since our announcement, CTS’s performance has not improved, despite our active support."

CTS also sued Metrolinx in 2018 over the project timeline, alleging breach of contract. That case was settled, according to CBC News.

Image: The construction site of Leaside Station on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT line, 15 December 2020 (Metrolinx/Eglinton Crosstown LRT/Twitter)

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