Excellence Canada Progressive Excellence Program® FAQ

AQ: Canada Awards for Excellence Organizational Certification Program

The following explanations apply equally to all Canada Awards for Excellence Standards and Frameworks.

About the Canada Awards for Excellence Organizational Certification Program

The Canada Awards for Excellence Organizational Certification Program was developed in four levels (Bronze, Silver, Gold, and, Platinum) to make it easier for organizations to implement with a staged approach. Certification links to Canada Awards for Excellence (CAE) national recognition.


In order to assist the organization on its journey, Excellence Canada provides an implementation package that includes a copy of the Canada Awards for Excellence Standards and Frameworks, an Implementation Guide, and Assessment Worksheets to assist with team input and dialogue when completing an internal self-assessment against the related requirements.


Completing an internal self-assessment serves as a basis for a submission. If the self-assessment signifies that the organization has achieved the targets outlined in the requirements, and a good rating is achieved, it is encouraged to apply for certification at that level.


How much does it cost to apply for Canada Awards for Excellence Standards Certification?

The cost for certification is based on the size of your organization, which standard and level it is applying for, and whether it is an Excellence Canada Partner.  Every situation is unique so a custom quotation is required.



Do we have to be an Excellence Canada Partner to apply for Certification?

While it is not a mandatory requirement, we highly recommend it. Excellence Canada partners can network with each other, have access to an international database of best practices, and can get significant discounts off services and training. In addition, Excellence Canada Partners can participate on our verification teams that visit organizations to verify their applications.

What is the linkage between the Canada Awards for Excellence Standards Organizational Certification Program and the Canada Awards for Excellence (CAE)?

Adoption of the Standards and Frameworks helps nurture a strategic approach, building on the work already in place in the organization. It helps “connect the dots” on existing initiatives. It also offers national recognition for the organization through the Canada Awards for Excellence (CAE) program.

Organizations that successfully achieve Silver (Level 2) are eligible for a SILVER CAE; Gold (Level 3) are eligible for a GOLD CAE; and Platinum (Level 4) are eligible for a PLATINUM CAE.  

How is progress on the Excellence Canada journey recognized?

Excellence Canada provides external validation of progress. It reviews an organization’s submission and grants certification for the Level(s) successfully completed. An organization can apply for certification for a single Level, or for a combination of Levels, as long as previous Levels have been certified, or are included in the submission. Certification for Platinum (Level 4) requires prior certification at Gold (Level 3).


An on-site verification is conducted by a verification team appointed by Excellence Canada. The verifiers will engage the executive and representative groups of employees in focus groups. The verifiers will ask questions in the focus groups, and review documents to validate the submission. Depending on the size of the organization, more than one site may be visited in the verification process. Excellence Canada grants certification if the application is successful, and provides a high-level overview following the visit.

Is certification forever?

Certification is valid for two years, at which time the organization is encouraged to advance to the next level. However, recertification at the same level is also possible. To maintain Platinum status, the organization must requalify every three years at the Order of Excellence Level to demonstrate continued improvement and sustainability..

How do we assess ourselves past the final Level?

This is when Excellence Canada assessment workbooks and techniques play an essential role, helping you to assess the organization against the Order of Excellence Framework. This keeps you on track and sustains the good work already achieved.

What is the best way to explain the Canada Awards for Excellence Organizational Certification Program to my senior management team?

The best way is to think about implementation. All senior managers want action. They want things done right away and they are normally very "outcomes driven." The implementation of the Standard and Frameworks in a four level staged approach breaks the journey into practical and manageable chunks. Senior management can quickly understand this progressive implementation because it consists of levels they can work on and accomplish. Ease of use through progressive implementation is the point to reinforce.

What is covered in each of the Canada Awards for Excellence Certification Levels?

Bronze (Level 1)
The Bronze Level focuses on commitment. Commitment is the logical place to start because at this level the organization secures a strategic leadership approach. Organizations typically take about 6 – 12 months to implement the Bronze level.

Silver (Level 2)
The Silver Level 2 builds on the solid commitment of Bronze. The Silver Level ensures that the organization has a systematic planning process in place and that this process is responsive to needs. Organizations typically take about 1 – 2 years to implement the Silver Level.

Gold (Level 3)
At Gold, the plans are rolled out, programs are implemented, and key processes are continually improved. All of this is monitored, and progress is measured. Employees at all levels are engaged as active participants throughout. Organizations typically take another 1 – 2 years to implement the Gold Level.

Platinum (Level 4)
At Platinum, leadership continues to improve their approach to managing the organization, and the organization evaluates levels and trends in order to measure results, continue making improvements, and respond to emerging needs and changes. Organizations take another 1 – 2 years to implement the Platinum Level.

What are the benefits of implementing the Canada Awards for Excellence Organizational Certification Program in our organization?

Business Case:

  • Lower attrition rates (normally ½ the rate of the respective sector)
  • Lower sickness and absenteeism
  • Lower payments to Workers Compensation
  • Reduction in employee grievances
  • Reduction in staff turnover
  • Savings in operating cost through increased productivity
  • Reduction in cycle times
  • Increase in customer satisfaction
  • Increase in employee satisfaction/morale
  • Decrease in injuries

Other Benefits of the Organizational Certification Program:

  • Helps achieve consistency of direction
  • Facilitates consensus on what needs to be done
  • Promotes optimization
  • Enhances assurance focus
  • Is target driven with external validation
  • Integrates various improvement initiatives
  • Improves communication on excellence

How does ISO9000 fit into the Canada Awards for Excellence Organizational Certification Program?

A focus on a quality management system, like ISO9000, fits into the mid-range of the Canada Awards for Excellence Standards and Frameworks. For example, an ISO-registered organization will have a good focus on process documentation and stability, a leadership that reinforces quality, and a sound approach to meeting customer needs. This fits perfectly into the Silver and Gold Levels of the Standard and Frameworks. Certification at the Silver Level (or higher) can be seen as ISO plus, a way to enhance the great work done on ISO in the organization.

A real benefit is that application of the Standard and Frameworks will help to sustain the ISO focus, as the two are complementary. Another key factor is that application of the Standard and Frameworks serve to re-energize an organization with fresh quality management goals. This can be very useful for those organizations that, after a few years, find that they get a bit bogged down on quality and quality assurance actions. Having new goals that complement the ISO standard is great for picking up momentum.

Where do other programs fit into the Canada Awards for Excellence Organizational Certification Program (e.g., Health Canada's Workplace Health System and the Canadian Healthcare Accreditation)?

Other programs complement the Canada Awards for Excellence Organizational Certification Program but do not replace it. They act as "tools" to help organizations at each level, and provide a part of the strategic approach to excellence. However, they are not comprehensive enough to get an organization to the higher levels of Certification.

How does the accreditation program of Accreditation Canada (formerly the Canadian Council on Health Services Accreditation) fit into the Canada Awards for Excellence Organizational Certification Program?

The programs complement one another. Excellence Canada provides tools and techniques with a horizontal approach, which is a tremendous help for the Quality team. Accreditation Canada helps to organize the team around clinical service areas. Both systems build on each other. Accreditation Canada provides accreditation. Excellence Canada provides national recognition.

The Canada Awards for Excellence Organizational Certification Program provides a strategic framework, plus implementation tools and techniques. It helps focus and knit efforts across the entire organization for ongoing sustainability of improvement efforts.

What training is in place for excellence managers to learn more about the journey?

Excellence Canada has developed the Certified Excellence Professional® Program (CEP) for individuals, which complements the Organizational Certification Program. As the organization progresses through the Certification Levels, individuals can progress as well and achieve personal certification.

How do we get started?

Excellence Canada recommends using a coach to help get you started.  The coach will meet with you in person to review your needs, and to customize your planning and implementation path. Send an email to coaching@excellence.ca or contact Bonita 1-800-263-9648 ext 233.