Frequently asked questions


What are the Prime Minister's Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Education?

The Prime Minister's Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Education have honoured outstanding early childhood educators since 2002, with over 200 educators honoured to date.

Recipients are recognized for their leadership, exemplary early childhood education practices, and their commitment to help build the foundation children need to make the best possible start in life.

Designated awards are offered to top-ranked Indigenous early childhood educators.

The awards are administered by Innovation, Science and Economic Development on behalf of the Prime Minister and in partnership with Employment and Social Development Canada, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada.


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Who can be nominated?

Early childhood educators who work in a licensed early childhood education setting can be nominated. This requirement is waived for nominees who work in Aboriginal Head Start sites on- and off-reserve or in early childhood education facilities on-reserve where there is no applicable provincial or territorial government licensing.

The awards can honour the overall accomplishments of a single educator or a team of up to three educators. At the time of nomination, all nominees must meet the following criteria:

  • Nominees must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada;
  • Nominees must have successfully completed training in early childhood education and care as follows:
    • degree, diploma or certificate in early childhood education and care;
    • official certification as an early childhood educator in the province or territory where the nominee is working; or,
    • successfully completed a training program in family child care.
  • Nominees must provide hands-on, direct education and care to young children at least 15 hours per week in a licensed Canadian early childhood education setting, as defined by provincial or territorial government regulations; and,
  • Nominees must have worked in a Canadian early childhood education setting for at least three years.

For the complete list of the eligibility criteria, please refer to the 2016-17 Nomination Guidelines.


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Are junior and senior kindergarten teachers considered early childhood educators?

No. Certified kindergarten teachers should be nominated for a Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence.

Some provinces and territories are beginning to integrate early childhood education programs into the K–12 system. Eligibility for individual or team nominations which may fall under both award categories will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The nominee's employer must provide a letter verifying the type of school-based early learning program for early childhood educators working in a school-based setting (early learning programs).


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Can childcare centre directors be nominated?

Yes. Childcare centre directors are eligible for an award if they provide hands-on, direct education and care to young children at least 15 hours per week in a licensed Canadian early childhood education setting and meet the eligibility criteria outlined in the 2016-17 Nomination Guidelines.


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Who can nominate?

Any person or group with direct knowledge of the nominee's contribution (i.e. parents, co-workers, supervisors, board members) can make a nomination.

Self-nominations or nominations received from a nominee's immediate family member are not accepted. Posthumous nominations are also not accepted.


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How are winners selected?

A selection committee made up of early childhood education experts from across Canada determines the recipients based on a rigorous evaluation process.

The selection committee looks for clear evidence that nominees have excelled in all of the following four areas:

  • Support of child development;
  • innovation;
  • Involvement with parents, families and the community; and,
  • commitment and leadership in the field.

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What do winners receive?

Early childhood educators are eligible for two awards:

  • The Certificate of Excellence (a national-level award)
    • Carries a cash prize of $5,000.
    • Awards are shared equally between the recipients and their childcare settings.
    • Recipients are traditionally invited to Ottawa to receive their award from the Prime Minister or his designate.
  • The Certificate of Achievement (a regional-level award)
    • Carries a cash prize of $1,000.
    • Awards are given solely to the recipients.
    • Recipients are traditionally honoured locally at community events and receive their award from their Member of Parliament or local leader, as appropriate.

All winning early childhood educators receive a certificate and a letter of congratulations from the Prime Minister. Each recipient's childcare setting also receives a certificate recognizing its support of, and contribution to, the educator's achievement.

The achievements of all award recipients are promoted both nationally and in the early childhood educators' home communities.


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Are there rules about how the award funds should be used?

Yes. The financial award is to be spent in collaboration with the recipient. Award funds may be used for professional development, equipment, resource materials or other tools that improve developmental programming and children's experiences related to the educator's work.

If a Certificate of Excellence recipient has changed childcare settings, the centre's share of the financial award goes to the setting at which the recipient was working at the time of nomination.


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When is the 2016-17 nomination deadline?

Nomination packages must be submitted to the Prime Minister’s Awards program office by January 20, 2017. Submissions must be sent by mail and postmarked by the deadline date to be considered for the 2016-17 award. Late entries will not be considered.


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Where do I send my nomination package?

Completed nomination packages must be sent by mail to the following address:

Prime Minister's Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Education
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
C.D. Howe Building, West Tower
235 Queen Street, 1st Floor
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H5

Please refer to the 2016-17 checklist to ensure that your nomination package includes all necessary information.


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How do I know if my nomination package has been received?

Nominators will receive a notification by email confirming receipt of their nomination packages.


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When will the award recipients be announced?

The exact date of the award ceremony changes from year to year. We recommend that you check our website for updates and encourage you to sign up for our email updates.

Following the announcement, the full list of recipients will be made available on our website.


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Will both successful and unsuccessful applicants be notified of their results?

Yes. All applicants will be notified of their results by telephone or in writing. Notifications will be sent in the days leading up to the announcement.


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Are all provinces and territories always represented?

The Prime Minister's Awards aim to present at least one Certificate of Excellence or one Certificate of Achievement for each of the following regions, provided standards of excellence are met:

  • British Columbia;
  • the Prairies (Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba);
  • the North (Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut);
  • Ontario;
  • Quebec; and,
  • Atlantic Canada (New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador).

While it is not always possible to have award recipients from every province and territory, depending upon the nominations received, there is generally solid representation from across the country each year.


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How are Indigenous recipients selected?

The Prime Minister's Awards aim to present at least one Certificate of Excellence or one Certificate of Achievement to top-ranked Indigenous early childhood educators, provided standards of excellence are met.


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Who can I contact for more information?

For more information about the Prime Minister's Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Education, please contact the PMA program office at ic.pmaece-ppmepe.ic@canada.ca or 613-991-4255. To receive the latest news about the Prime Minister's Awards, we encourage you to sign up for email updates.

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