Calgary daycares linked to E. coli outbreak to reopen, lawsuit being considered

CALGARY — The Calgary daycares linked to an E. coli outbreak could reopen early next week as a potential class-action lawsuit is being considered.

Alberta Health Services said there are now 142 lab-confirmed cases of E. coli connected to an outbreak at up to 11 Calgary daycares.

Dr. Francesco Rizzuti, medical officer of health in Calgary, said four of those 11 sites have had no reported E. coli cases and would be allowed to reopen Monday if that continues.

"I want to stress that the health and safety of children and staff are our absolute top priority," he told reporters at a news conference on Friday.

"Facilities will only reopen if we are confident that health and safety will not be affected."

Rizzuti said the remaining seven facilities could be allowed to reopen Tuesday, but all children and staff will be required to show proof of a negative test before they can return. They are also not permitted to attend other child-care facilities, he added.

The update comes as a Calgary lawyer said she's preparing a potential class-action lawsuit on behalf of the families.

Maia Tomljanovic, who has worked on similar cases in the past, said she has spoken to dozens of parents whose children have been infected, and that she's aware there are many others.

She said it's common for class-action lawsuits in such cases because of the number of claimants.

"It can be very difficult for the courts to handle the numerous individual claims being litigated at the same time," she said.

Tomljanovic said they are in the "early days" of potentially filing a lawsuit.

"Another mode that can be taken is to run individual claims alongside one another in what is, essentially, a mass tort."

She said it would take years to litigate and that most of the parents are focused on their children's health at this time.

Parent John Greenbow said his two-year-old son Emmett contracted E. coli at Fueling Brains Academy in Calgary's New Brighton neighbourhood, but the toddler didn't need to stay in hospital.

Greenbow said he'd consider legal action once his son recovers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 8, 2023.

The Canadian Press