COCA recognizes industry leaders at a ceremony in Niagara Falls


ECAO’s Graeme Aitken wins top honours

Ontario Construction Report staff writer

The Council of Ontario Construction Associations (COCA) honoured construction industry leaders from across Ontario with the Cliff Bulmer Award, the Construction Hard Hat Award, the Chair’s Award, and the President’s Award at a June 9 ceremony in Niagara Falls.

COCA’s highest honour, the Cliff Bulmer Award, recognizing an individual who has made an outstanding contribution in furthering the relationship between the construction industry and the Ontario Government was presented to Graeme Aitken, executive director of the Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario (ECAO) for his efforts to pursue health and safety issues with the province.

COCA’s Construction Hard Hat Special Achievement Award recognizes individuals who “do something truly remarkable to advance the interests of the construction industry.” This year’s winners include:

  • Elizabeth Witmer has served the Ontario public for 36 years, including 22 years as the Kitchener-Waterloo Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) and as the WSIB’s chair. As an MPP she also served as the deputy premier of Ontario, Minister of Labour, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, Minister of Environment and Minister of Education.
  • Michael Sherrard is recognized as one of Canada’s leading employment and labour lawyers. His clients are national and international, public and private, and operate in a wide range of industries and sectors. Michael is the chair of Skilled Trades Ontario (a Provincial Crown Agency under the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development) and sits on the board of directors of Skills Canada (Ontario), Support Ontario Youth and the Council of Professional Investigators of Ontario.

COCA’s Industry Ally Award is presented to an individual outside of the federation who has made a significant contribution to the success of the construction industry or who has contributed to improvements to the industry environment in Ontario. This year the following individuals were honoured:

  • Ian Howcroft, Chief Executive Officer of Skills Ontario.
  • Rod Cook, vice-president, Workplace Health and Safety Services and Matt Wilson, Director, Workplace Health and Safety Services at the WSIB.
  • Patrick Dillon recently retired as Business Manager and Secretary-Treasurer of the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario, a position he held since 1997.
  • Craig LeSurf, president of Gillam Group Inc. and chair of the League of Champions.
  • Ron Kelusky, appointed as Ontario’s Chief Prevention Officer in March of 2018 and retired from this position in 2021.

The Chair’s Award is given at the discretion of the COCA chair to individuals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in their contributions to the success of the provincial federation chair Romeo Milano presented the award to:

  • Andy Pilat, who recently died, had served as general manager of the Sarnia Construction Association for 40 years. The award was accepted by Andy’s son John, who has succeeded Andy at the association;.
  • Jim Lyons, executive director of the Windsor Construction Association;
  • Sue Ramsay, general manager, Hamilton Halton Construction Association and the The Grand Valley Construction Association

The President’s Award is at discretion of the president and this year’s winners are:

  • Karen Sheldrick, general manager of the Niagara Construction Association.
  • Trina Hayden, director at NORCAT, a not-for-profit technology and innovation centre headquartered in Greater Sudbury. She also serves on the board of the Northeastern Ontario Construction Association


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