TORONTO — Crosslinx Transit Solutions, the consortium building the Eglinton Crosstown LRT in Toronto, has launched a rapid antigen testing program as it escalates its fight against COVID-19.
Crosslinx includes EllisDon, which is undertaking rapid antigen testing at several of its large sites across Ontario. The Crosstown program is part of a pilot that is being conducted by the Ontario Ministry of Labour and the Ontario Ministry of Health.
This comes after several outbreaks at sites across the city for the companies.
Between Dec. 27, 2020 and Jan. 29 there were 69 positive test results reported at The Well project, where EllisDon is a prime contractor. Crosslinx announced Jan. 7 that 28 Crosslinx employees and subcontracted workers at eight sites had tested positive for COVID over the previous two weeks. And there were 15 positives reported at the Michael Garron Hospital site in December, another EllisDon job.
“Through our rapid antigen test pilot we are working to build stability and safe workplaces during an unstable time,” said Steve Chaplin, vice-president, health, safety and environment with EllisDon, in a Feb. 8 statement. “While working closely with our government officials, we have the moral obligation to do everything we can to protect our employees and the communities in which we build.”
Crosslinx president and project director Bill Henry stated, “Crosslinx is committed to remaining an industry leader when it comes to protecting the health of the people who are building this project in communities right across Eglinton. Rapid testing is a critical addition to what we’ve already mandated to keep our workforce healthy and confident coming to work.”
Testing will take place based on a rotating schedule at all Crosslinx sites across Eglinton. The week of Feb. 8, testing is at three sites — Leaside, Golden Mile and the Eglinton Maintenance Storage Facility.
“As Chief Prevention Officer, I am very supportive of rapid testing initiatives that will help ensure workers are safe and that vital construction sites remain open,” said Ron Kelusky.
Participation in the Crosslinx rapid testing program is mandatory, with registered nurses administering the Panbio antigen test twice weekly to asymptomatic workers. Individuals who test positive are required to contact Toronto Public Health and arrange a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.
EllisDon had been testing workers on a voluntary basis but decided to scale up its testing to mandatory as COVID numbers increased in recent weeks across the province, noted the release.
In addition to communicating directly with project workers and subcontractors, Crosslinx is working with the Central Ontario Building Trades (COBT) and the Ontario Association of General Contractors to promote the benefits of rapid testing to union members and subcontractors.
“As the pandemic continues to rage and, sadly, there are more and more delays with the vaccine, testing is going to be instrumental in protecting our workers from this deadly virus,” said James St. John, business manager at COBT. “In our continued efforts to ensure the health and safety of our workers in the field, we commend Crosslinx for taking this action and for securing these rapid tests.”
Crosslinx will provide the Ontario Ministry of Health with data from the pilot to support an increased understanding of how rapid antigen testing could be deployed more broadly to support provincial COVID-19 response activities, its release explained.
Other team members of Crosslinx are ACS-Dragados, Aecon and SNC-Lavalin. Crosslinx has 24 construction sites located across Eglinton Avenue between Black Creek Drive and Kennedy Road and a workforce of 1,500.