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 300 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.

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, Indigenous Services and the Public Health Agency of Canada.

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 2023 Prime Minister's Awards Guidelines.

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.

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 2023 Prime Minister's Awards Guidelines.

Can an early childhood educator in a kindergarten classroom be nominated?

Yes. Early childhood educators 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 Canadian kindergarten setting and meet the eligibility criteria outlined in the 2023 Prime Minister's Awards Guidelines. For nominees working in a kindergarten setting, a letter from the principal confirming the type of school-based early learning program is required instead of a setting's operating license.

When does a nominee need an endorsement from my professional association or guarantor?

If the nominee is the owner/operator of the early childhood setting, endorsement of a representative of the nominee’s professional association or an occupation-based guarantor is required. An occupation-based guarantor must practice in one of the following occupations: medical doctor, dean/head of university or college, dentist, judge, lawyer/notary, notary public, pharmacist, police officer, signing officer of a bank or trust company or financial institution that offers a full range of banking services, or veterinarian.

Who signs the statement of employment for an nominee who is an owner/operator of an ECE centre?

If the nominee is an owner/operator of an ECE centre the statement of employment, confirming direct education and care to young children at least 15 hours per week for a minimum of three years in a licensed Canadian ECE setting, may be signed by a colleague or guarantor who is able to attest to the number of hours the educator has worked for the last 3 years.

Who writes the letters of support for an nominee who is an owner/operator of an ECE centre?

If the nominee is an owner/operator of an ECE centre, three letters of support are written by individuals with direct knowledge for the nominee's accomplishments, for example, parents of children, peers, a guarantor and representatives of professional associations. In this case, a letter from the nominee’s supervisor or director is not required.

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.

How are recipients selected?

Prime Minister's Award (PMA) recipients are selected via a rigorous process that involves volunteers from major education stakeholders across Canada, including post-secondary institutions, early childhood education associations, and past recipients.

The program has recruited over 30 volunteer representatives from various education and early childhood education stakeholders, including provincial and territorial officials. This large number is required as each nomination package is reviewed by up to four regional evaluators. After an initial screening for basic eligibility, copies of the nomination text and letters of support are sent to our regional evaluators for review. The regional evaluators look for clear evidence that nominees have excelled in all of the following four areas:

  1. Support of child development;
  2. Innovation;
  3. Involvement with parents, families and the community; and,
  4. Commitment and leadership in the field.

Nomination packages are evaluated and ranked based on how well each nominee meets the selection criteria for the awards.

A final list of the top-ranked candidates is recommended to the Minister who informs the Prime Minister. Up to 15 awards (5 Excellence, 10 Achievement) are offered for the Prime Minister's Award for Excellence in Early Childhood Education.

Based on the number of nomination received and provided standards of excellence are met, the PMA aims to have an annual cohort of recipients that reflect the diversity of the country with appropriate geographic, Indigenous, visible minority, and gender and representation.

Regional evaluators are all volunteers who give their valuable time and expertise at no cost to the program. The PMA program could not function without the generous support of our volunteer evaluators.

When is the 2023 nomination deadline?

Nomination packages must be submitted to the Prime Minister’s Awards program office by January 17, 2023 — 11:59 a.m. Pacific Time.

How do I send my nomination package?

Completed nomination packages can be sent either by email or by regular mail.

On-line

Before submitting your nomination on-line, please ensure to:

  • Download the nomination form and save it to your computer
  • Complete all required sections of the nomination form
  • Ensure you have included all required attachments by selecting the Add Attachments feature
  • Click the Submit button at the bottom on the nomination form

Submitting by email

Email submissions must be sent to primeministersawards-prixdupremierministre@ised-isde.gc.ca by the deadline date in one of the following file formats:.pdf,.doc,.docx.rtf,.txt,.jpg,.jpeg,.tiff,.tif,.xps. The total file size cannot exceed 10 MB.

Submitting by mail

If you chose to submit a nomination by mail, make sure your package is postmarked by the deadline date and sent to the following address:

Prime Minister's Awards
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
C.D. Howe Building
235 Queen Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H5

Can I send multimedia files (DVD, CD, USB) with my nomination package?

No. The PMA program office does not currently accept any multimedia materials with nominations. The PMA program is looking at ways to accept multimedia files in the future.

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

Nominators will receive a notification by email confirming receipt of their nomination packages. If you have not received a confirmation, please contact the PMA program office at primeministersawards-prixdupremierministre@ised-isde.gc.ca.

When will the award recipients be announced?

For the announcement of the 2023 Prime Minister's Award recipients, we recommend signing-up for email updates and checking the website for the most recent information.

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.

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 representation from across the country each year.

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.

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 primeministersawards-prixdupremierministre@ised-isde.gc.ca or 1-800-328-6189. To receive the latest news about the Prime Minister's Awards, we encourage you to sign up for email updates.