Public Summary of PwC’s Certification Program

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PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Canada is an accredited under ISO17021-1:2015, ISO17065:2012 and FSC-STD-20-011 (V3-0) to the deliver certification services under the following standard schemes:


Accreditation Body

ISO 9001 Quality Management System Standard (

Standards Council of Canada (SCC)

ISO 14001 Environmental Management System Standard (

Standards Council of Canada (SCC)

Programme for the Endorsement of Forest CertificationTM (PEFCTM) Chain of Custody Standard (

Standards Council of Canada (SCC)

Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) Chain of Custody, Forest Management and Fiber Sourcing Standards (

Standards Council of Canada (SCC)

American Tree Farm System® (ATFS®) Forest Management Standard (

Standards Council of Canada (SCC)

CAN/CSA Z809 Forest Management Standard (

Standards Council of Canada (SCC)

Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) Chain of Custody and Controlled Wood Standards (

Accreditation Services International (ASI)

Sustainable Biomass Partnership (

Accreditation Services International (ASI)

We also provide unaccredited certification for occupational health and safety programs:

  • OHSAS 18001This is an international occupational health and safety (OHS) management standard that enables an organization to manage its OHS risks and improve its OHS performance.

Certification Program

The PwC Certification Program consists of four stages:


Upon requesting information related to our certification services, a potential client will be sent an application form and asked to describe their organisation and business structure, the standard(s) they wish to be certified to and the scope of the certification(s) at minimum. PwC will conduct an independence check and risk evaluation to review impartiality, to safeguard against conflicts of interest and develop a risk profile prior to issuing a proposal and fee quote.  If the prospective client is found to pose a risk to PwC’s impartiality or poses a conflict of interest or business risk to PwC (e.g. financial, reputational, legal, etc.) then PwC may refuse to provide a quote to the organisation.

PwC will take into consideration the following when evaluating a prospective client:

  • Any possible relationship concerns or possible conflicts with other services we are providing to the entity;
  • Any possible questions or concerns over the reputation, character, or integrity of the prospective client’s management and/or owners that would preclude our acceptance;
  • Any questions about the prospective client’s viability or business risks that would increase PwC’s risk of being associated with the client;
  • Any evidence that key management may place undue pressure or influence over an engagement; and
  • If the business that the prospective client is involved in presents a risk for PwC regarding the association with such a business.

When the client indicates they are ready to proceed with the certification, we will initiate the engagement process, which includes our client acceptance process and the preparation of a formal engagement letter for signature. All documents are retained electronically in the client’s file.

PwC charges fees for the scope of certification services agreed to with each client. PwC may also collect fees on behalf of standards bodies such as FSC, PEFC and SFI.

Certification Assessment

The Certification Assessment process is depicted in the following flow chart and includes five phases: strategic assessment planning, detailed planning, fieldwork, reporting, and action plan/follow-up. Each phase is described in more detail below.

Assessment Phase 1: Strategic Assessment Planning

A planning meeting conference call will be held to determine the final assessment details and itinerary and will occur prior to the on-site assessment. As part of our assessment process the PwC assessment team may request required documentation 2 to 3 weeks prior to the on-site assessment. Our planning process may also include gathering the following information to enable testing on a sample basis during the assessment:

  • The requirements of the standard(s). We also review and discuss, logistics, regional issues and regulatory requirements as an example. We then customize the assessment protocols as appropriate.
  • Access or a copy of the client’s Management system(s).
  • Either supplier assertions or supplier CoC claims relied upon by the organization.

The evaluation of conformance with these requirements involves an assessment of office and facility activities. As a final step in the strategic assessment planning phase, we identify independent, qualified and competent assessment team members and the lead auditor. Where we utilize external expertise we evaluate their technical experience, regional knowledge and assessment experience, conduct reference checks and confirm their independence from the operation to be assessed.

Assessment Phase 2: Detailed Planning

The key to success of any assessment is careful planning, including the assessment sample and logistics. The objectives of the detailed planning phase include:

  • Confirming the assessment process, objectives, team and reporting format
  • Confirming the standard requirements prior to the assessment
  • Discussing documentation requirements
  • Identifying and discussing any key operational issues including the scope of the management system
  • Conducting a risk assessment
  • Selecting the sample
  • Addressing logistical and administrative requirements.

In order to meet the compliance Standards that govern our work, we select a representative sample of operations to review from both an office planning/management and field performance perspective. The process for developing the field assessment includes a risk assessment of operations conducted through discussions with the client and other sources, combined with an evaluation of relevant documents. Risk issues identified during the planning process may include:

  • Fibre received from suppliers, both domestic and offshore
  • Claims made by suppliers
  • Internal audit results
  • Stakeholder concerns or complaints
  • Known regional/local risks

A planning memorandum is prepared after the planning process, which includes documentation of the planned assessment activities, team, scope, detailed schedule and logistics amongst other relevant information for the client. A copy of a planning memo is provided the client and a signed copy must be returned prior to the start of the assessment to confirm the assessment.

Assessment Phase 3 - Document Review and On-Site Assessment

Our Assessments can be classified as Initial (IA - Stage 1 - document readiness review and Stage 2 - on-site assessment activities) Assessments; Maintenance Assessments and Re-certification Assessments. 

The Stage 1 - Document Readiness Review activities include reviewing the management system documented information, evaluate the client’s site specific conditions and have discussions with employees.  PwC will look to see that objectives and key performance indicators or significant aspects are in place and understood.  Auditors will review the scope of the management system and obtain information on the organization’s processes and operations, the levels of control that have been established as well as any applicable statutory or regulatory requirements.  Internal audits and management reviews will be evaluated to ensure they are being planned and performed and the overall level of implementation of the management system to determine if they are ready to move forward with the Stage 2 Certification Assessment.

The Stage 2 Assessment is intended to evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of the organization’s management system(s). During this assessment, PwC needs to determine the degree of compliance with the standard’s requirements, and report any non-conformances or potential non-conformances that the organization will have to correct before the registration certificate can be issued. If the Stage 2 assessment is successful, the organization’s management system(s) will be certified.  The Stage 2 assessment includes but is not limited to:

  • Reviewing all relevant documented information that supports the management system’s conformity with all the standard requirements
  • Assessing key performance objectives and targets, looking at performance monitoring, measuring and reporting
  • Evaluating internal audits, management review and management responsibility for the organization’s policies
  • Reviewing all relevant processes, looking at operational control and the ability to carry them out as planned.

Ongoing annual Surveillance Assessments (SA) are required by all of the standards and may focus on specific elements of the management system.  Surveillance Assessments usually require less time to complete than the registration/certification assessment where they are a limited sample.  The surveillance assessment is intended to:

  • Establish if the management system continues to operate, be effective and conformity to the standard is still being achieved
  • Check that internal audits and management reviews are being conducted
  • Check that continual improvement is being achieved
  • Check on any areas of concern, suggestions, or that minor nonconformities fixed at the certification assessment do not re-occur.

Re-certification Assessment (RA) are required to commence a new registration/certification cycle and are usually less intense than the initial assessment but more than a surveillance assessment.   PwC will take the client’s performance over the past cycle into consideration when determining the time required to complete the assessment.  All elements of the standard need to be tested in this assessment.

In the Assessment phase (IA/SA/RA), management systems and product certification processes are tested through a process of reviewing policies, data, and reports, including interviews with key staff.

All Assessments commence with an opening meeting where the lead auditor confirms the assessment objectives, scope, schedule, logistics, etc.   In the field, the assessment team confirms operational compliance to the applicable requirements at the client’s facilities, the client’s programs designed to implement the process, and internal policies. A de-briefing meeting is held after each day of the assessment to review observations and allow for further discussion or clarification.

Our assessment protocols are designed so that the requirements of the applicable standard are thoroughly reviewed by the assessment team from different perspectives. This facilitates thorough discussion of any issues and enables the team to reach consensus on conformance with the applicable standards and the management system effectiveness.

A closing meeting will be held on the final day of the assessment, at which time a written or verbal draft of any findings identified will be reviewed and discussed.

Our working relationship with all of our clients is of paramount importance to PwC. With regard to our process for dispute resolution, we believe that our client relationship and accountability begins with our assessment teams. Our assessment teams will de-brief with client staff on a daily basis to make sure that if technical disagreements arise, they are discussed, reviewed, and investigated internally as necessary by PwC to achieve acceptable resolution at the operational level. The engagement partner is available for further discussion as necessary, including formal appeal procedures.

Assessment Phase 4: Reporting

The following deliverables will be produced by PwC:

  • A Certificate of Registration to the applicable standard(s) – issued for 3 or 5 years depending on the standard.
  • A Continual Improvement Report (“Report”) - will identify any findings identified during the assessment (classified as opportunities for improvement and/or minor or major nonconformities). The Report is intended for the client’s internal use, once finalized the distribution of the Report is limited to the client’s management and/or the Board of Directors.

The deliverables will not be finalized until the Quality Review Process has been completed and the Practice Leader has made the certification decision.

Assessment Phase 5: Action Plan/Follow-up

Our responsibility includes delivery of reports and a Certificate. Responsibility for action plan development, implementation and follow-up in response to findings identified by the assessment team rests with the client. These issues will be reviewed during subsequent Maintenance Assessments and the Re-certification Assessment, as appropriate.

Our firm’s quality control policies and procedures are supported by our comprehensive Business Management System (BMS) that governs the delivery of all management system and certification assessment services. The BMS allows PwC to manage quality in all aspects of our services. All members of our team (internal staff and external contract assessors) are aware of their operational and functional duties and services that pertain to ensuring quality.

Our internal Quality Review Committee (QRC) is responsible for the ongoing management of the certification practice and has the responsibility of managing quality through the review of each certification assessment. The Lead Assessor will meet with the QRC and discuss each certification assessment with them so that the QRC can complete the certification decision.

All of the standards require an annual maintenance assessment to confirm the client is continuing to maintain their management or CoC system and carrying out their practices in conformance to the standard(s). While conducting the maintenance assessment, the assessment team will also be monitoring the client’s conformance to the other elements of the PwC Certification Program as outlined in the engagement letter and related agreements.

Certification Communication and Logo-Use Agreement

Upon successful certification, the client will receive the deliverables mentioned above and will be required to conform to the certification communication requirements detailed in the engagement letter. If the client chooses to utilize the PwC logo or Certification mark, or the SCC logo, PwC will provide them with a logo-use agreement for signature, which includes detailed information on the use of the logo or mark.

If the client chooses to utilize the FSC trademark or Certification Marks, approvals for each new application must be made to and approved by PwC. If the client chooses to utilize the PEFC, SBP and/or SFI logos or Certification Marks, separate agreements must be made with those organizations.

FSC, PEFC, SBP and SFI maintain on-line directories of certified products and their suppliers and once the client is certified, PwC will work with the client to ensure the required information is submitted to those directories.

PwC will inform all clients of changes to its certification requirements, within thirty (30) days of such changes being approved by the approval body of the respective standard. PwC will assess the use of logos during its assessment for conformity with the terms and conditions throughout the certification cycle.

Suspension, Withdrawal or Reducing the Scope of Certification

PwC will consider suspending or withdrawing certification in the following situations:

  • The client's certified management system or CoC process has persistently or seriously failed to meet certification requirements, including requirements for the continued effectiveness of the management system/CoC process;
  • The certified client does not allow Maintenance or Re-registration/Re-certification Assessments to be completed by PwC at the required frequencies;
  • The certified client has voluntarily requested a suspension;
  • The certified client has not paid their certification fees;
  • The occurrence of five or more major non-compliances in a maintenance assessment shall be considered as a breakdown of the company’s Chain of Custody system and the certificate shall be suspended immediately; or
  • Upon client request

When a clients' certification is suspended, the certification is considered temporarily invalid.  PwC includes wording to this effect in our Engagement Letter that is signed by the client.  The status of the suspended certification will be recorded in the Registered Client Database maintained by PwC and will be made publicly-available on request.  The Lead Assessor will communicate to the client, the actions needed to end suspension and any other actions required by the certification scheme.

Failure to resolve the situation creating the need to suspend the certification within sixty (60) days will result in either a reduction in the scope of certification or withdrawal of the certification. Any evaluations, reviews or decisions need to resolve the suspension or withdrawal will be conducted and reviewed using the same general requirements as certification.

PwC will reduce the scope of certification to exclude those activities not meeting the requirements when the client has persistently or seriously failed to meet the certification requirements.  A reduction in scope could also be a condition of certificate reinstatement.  The reduction of scope will be in line with the requirements of the certification standard.

PwC will advise clients that upon receipt of written notice to withdraw the certification, the client must discontinue its use of all advertising materials that contain any reference to certification status.

Requests from the Public

PwC shall provide upon request information about:

a) Geographical area in which it operates;

b) The status of a given certification;

c) The name, related normative document, scope and geographical location(s) (city and country) for a specific certified client.


Impartiality Policy

PwC certification, registration, and verification services are subject to the following conflict of interest policies, including:

  • PwC will not offer or provide services that it certifies others to perform.
  • PwC will not offer or provide certification consulting services to obtain or maintain certification services to those organizations that PwC has certified.
  • PwC will not offer or provide services to design, implement, or maintain management systems, chain of custody, or verification processes to those organizations that PwC has certified
  • PwC together with its senior management staff shall be free from any commercial, financial, and other pressures, which might influence the results of the certification process.
  • PwC will not certify another certification, registration, or verification body for their management system, chain of custody, or verification activities.
  • PwC will not offer or provide internal (third-party) audits for management systems, chain of custody, or verification processes for clients that it has certified for a minimum of two years following the completion of the internal audits.
  • PwC will take action to respond to any threats to its impartiality in accordance with the firm's policy for potential conflicts of interest.
  • All PwC assessors working in the certification practice sign independence declarations prior to charging work on client assignments.
  • All external contract assessors, verifiers, subject matter experts, and technical experts working in the certification practice sign independence declarations as part of their contract prior to starting work on client assignments, to confirm their impartiality.
  • PwC will not certify an organization who has received consultancy or internal auditing assistance, and the relationship between PwC and those who provided the consultancy services poses an unacceptable threat to the impartiality of PwC, for a minimum of two years following the end of consultancy.
  • PwC will not outsource audits to an organization whose primary business is providing management system consultancy services. This does not apply to individuals contracted as auditors as they will sign independence declarations as discussed above.
  • PwC will not state or imply that certification would be simpler, easier, faster or less expensive if a specified consultancy organization were used.  We will not market or link our certification services with an organization that provides management system consultancy services. In addition, we will take corrective action to correct any organization that provides management system consultancy services if we become aware that they are stating or implying that certification would be simpler, easier, faster or less expensive if PwC was used.

As a further safeguard of conflict of interest and impartiality, an Authorization for Service (AFS) is an internal process that requires the Practice Leader to obtain approvals before providing services to any client that is also a financial audit client of any PwC firm globally. The approval is granted by the PwC financial audit partner, who may or may not need approval from the client's financial audit committee before approval can be granted.

Additionally, to ensure that there is no conflict of interest, personnel (including those acting in a managerial capacity) who have provided consultancy, or been employed by a client, shall not be part of an audit team to audit, review, make certification decisions or to review or approve the resolution of a complaint or appeal for that client within two (2) years for all Standards, except FSC which will be three (3) years, following the end of the consultancy or employment.


Dispute Resolution

PwC has procedures for information requests, processing appeals and complaints pertaining to our accredited certification and verification programs. The process can be initiated in writing to the Practice Leader Mike Harris, or by contacting the PwC Canada Complaints and Business Conduct Hotline at 1-877-814-5833. All appeals and complaints will be acknowledged in writing along with providing a description of the complaints and appeals process. All enquiries will be handled in accordance with PwC confidentiality policies.

Contact us

Mike Harris
Partner, Risk Assurance Services
Tel: +1 604 806 7711