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Chartered Professional Accountant

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Chartered Professional Accountant

Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) (French: comptable professionnel agréé) is a professional designation that is designed to replace those granted by the three main accounting bodies in Canada:

Full implementation (with amalgamation of the professional bodies concerned) has already happened in Quebec, Bermuda, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan. Partial implementation (ie, adoption of the designation before amalgamation has been sanctioned), has occurred in British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, and Ontario. Implementation in other Canadian provinces has been agreed in principle, and is currently in various stages of progress.


Origin of name

"Chartered Professional Accountant" is borrowed from a similar but aborted Australian merger attempt in 1998.[2] It has been registered as an EU Community trademark by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.[3] However, applications to register "CPA" as such were either withdrawn[4] or refused.[5]

Registration as a Canadian trademark was originally sought by the Ordre des comptables agréés du Québec in September 2010, but the application lapsed.[6] It was subsequently secured by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario in August 2011.[7]

Reason for Canadian adoption

While other professional accounting bodies around the world are currently extending their reach through various globalization activities, the Canadian accounting profession appears to be relatively fractured in comparison.[8] The current initiative is the latest of a series of consolidating moves that has affected the Canadian accounting profession between 1880 and 2010,[9] of which the last significant merger occurred between Canadian chartered accountants and certified public accountants in the 1960s.[10] Several attempts were made to merge the CGAs and CMAs during the 1960s, as well as of all three bodies during the 1970s.[11] A subsequent merger attempt between chartered accountants and certified management accountants occurred in 2004, being promoted by their leaders but failing to secure adequate membership support.[12]

In 2011, all three main bodies agreed to work towards a merger that would see a new organization with 125,000 professional members and 20,000 candidates and registered students. This new accounting body would be one of the largest in the world.[13] The guiding principles for the discussion were expressed to be:

  • Evolution to a single designation over a 10-year transition period
  • Continued use of existing designations
  • Retention but no expansion of rights (ie, current mutual recognition agreements would be confined to legacy members concerned)
  • A uniform certification process for new members
  • Introduction of post-certification specialty programmes
  • Branding the CPA designation, with de-emphasis of legacy designations
  • Common code of conduct, regulations and the practice of public accountancy
  • Merged operations and governance[14]

While the merger proposal is framed in a national context, approval must be undertaken on a province-by-province basis, as recognition of professional status has been accepted as a matter of provincial jurisdiction since 1911.[1] The concept of unification has received significant support from business stakeholders and accounting academics.[21][22][23]

  1. ^ Dominion Association of Chartered Accountants
  2. ^ Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants
  3. ^ Canadian Society of Cost Accountants, eventually becoming the Society of Management Accountants of Canada in 1977 and CMA Canada in 1985
  4. ^ first accounting organization in North America, and predecessor of the Ordre des comptables agréés du Québec
  5. ^ Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario, succeeding the Institute of Accountants and Adjusters of Ontario formed in 1879

Merger process by province and territory

Rollout of implementation

The merger process, while introduced nationally, is proceeding at different stages provincially. All provincial and territorial accounting bodies have agreed to implement the new designation, with the following progress achieved:

     = bill under consideration
     = passage of bill
CPA implementation by jurisdiction
Jurisdiction Current status Enabling legislation Royal assent In force Designation in effect
 British Columbia Joint Venture Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act, 2014, S.B.C. 2014, c. 14


September 18, 2013 (CA)
September 20, 2013 (CGA)
November 9, 2013 (CMA)
 Yukon Merger agreement
 Alberta Unification Agency 1st reading on November 25, 2014
2nd reading on December 2, 2014[41]
on proclamation on proclamation
 Northwest Territories
 Saskatchewan Amalgamation The Accounting Profession Act, S.S. 2014, c. A-3.1 May 14, 2014[42] November 10, 2014[43][44] November 10, 2014
 Manitoba Joint Venture 1st reading on December 1, 2014[45] on proclamation on Royal Assent
 Ontario Unification agreement; CMA/CGA association with ICAO November 1, 2012 (CA)
April 1, 2014 (CMA)
July 2, 2014 (CGA)[46]
 Quebec Amalgamation Chartered Professional Accountants Act, S.Q. 2012, c. 11 May 16, 2012 May 16, 2012 May 16, 2012
 New Brunswick Amalgamation Chartered Professional Accountants Act, S.N.B. 2014, c. 28 May 21, 2014 September 1, 2014 September 1, 2014
 Nova Scotia Transition Steering Committee
 Prince Edward Island Joint Venture Chartered Professional Accountants and Public Accounting Act, S.P.E.I. 2014, c. 2 November 27, 2014[47] on proclamation May 1, 2014[48]
 Newfoundland and Labrador Transition Steering Committee 1st reading on November 18, 2014[49]
2nd reading on November 20, 2014
3rd reading on November 24, 2014[50]
January 9, 2015 January 9, 2015
 Bermuda Conversion Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bermuda Amendment Act 2014 (2014:8) March 26, 2014 April 11, 2014[51] April 11, 2014

Variations in implementation

Because of local variations in the development of the accounting profession in each jurisdiction, there are differences in the various Acts that have been adopted with respect to such matters as the identification of public accountants, protection for those members who possessed predecessor designations that were subsumed by the current CA, CGA and CMA designations, and certain phrases that are reserved to holders of the new designation:

CPA implementation: Protected phrases and designations by jurisdiction
Jurisdiction Identification as public accountant Protected heritage designations Protected descriptions
AAPA[a 1] ACA[a 2] APA[a 3] CPA*[a 4] GA[a 5] RIA[a 6] professional accountant public accountant auditor qualified auditor accountant certified accountant recognized accountant
 British Columbia
 Alberta Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
 Northwest Territories
 Saskatchewan Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
 Manitoba Green tickY[a 7] Green tickY[a 8] Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
 Quebec Auditor[a 9] Green tickY Green tickY
 New Brunswick Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY[a 10] Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
 Nova Scotia
 Prince Edward Island
 Newfoundland and Labrador LPA[a 11] Green tickY[a 12] Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
 Bermuda Green tickY Green tickY Green tickY
  1. ^ Associate of the Accredited Public Accountants
  2. ^ Associate of the Chartered Accountants
  3. ^ Accredited Public Accountant
  4. ^ Certified Public Accountant
  5. ^ General Accountant
  6. ^ Registered Industrial Accountant
  7. ^ or Public Accountant
  8. ^ or Certified Practising Accountant
  9. ^ attached to principal designation, expressed as "CPA Auditor"
  10. ^ known as Registered Industrial and Cost Accountant
  11. ^ Licensed Public Accountant
  12. ^ legacy designation: holders must identify themselves as "ACPA, ACA"

Implementation in Quebec

The unification initiative was the fifth such move since 1973, in which Quebec's accounting bodies sought to merge.[52]

On March 28, 2012, a bill was tabled in the National Assembly of Quebec to create the Ordre des comptables professionnels agréés du Québec. It subsequently received Royal Assent on May 16, 2012, and went into force on the same date. Among the more notable provisions of the Act:

  • Section 4 reserves the practice of public accountancy to CPAs that hold public accountancy permits issued by the Ordre. In this respect, "public accountancy" is defined as the performance of audit engagements, review engagements, compilation engagements or the issuing of any certification, declaration or opinion on financial statements (that are not strictly intended for internal management purposes).
  • Section 7 provides that CPAs that hold public accountancy permits must use the term "Auditor" immediately after the designation of "Chartered Professional Accountant" or its initials, as in "CPA Auditor".
  • Section 13 prohibits the use of the phrases "expert-comptable", "professional accountant" and "public accountant" by anyone in the province who is not a member of the new Ordre. "Chartered Professional Accountant", Auditor, Chartered Accountant, Certified General Accountant, and Certified Management Accountant, together with their related initials, are also protected designations under the Act.
  • Section 62 provides that existing Quebec CAs, CGAs and CMAs as at the date the Act came into force, for a period of 10 years, must add their legacy designation immediately after that of CPA, as in "CPA, CA", "CPA, CGA" or "CPA, CMA". For those who hold public accountancy permits, Section 63 provides that the corresponding combination will be "CPA Auditor, CA", "CPA Auditor, CGA" or "CPA Auditor, CMA".

Implementation in Ontario

The implementation of the designation in Ontario has followed a complex route:

  • On May 15, 2012, CGAs and CMAs in Ontario announced that they were withdrawing from merger discussions in that province.[53][54][55]
  • On October 25, 2012, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario announced the adoption of bylaw and regulation amendments to provide for the implementation of the CPA designation with respect to its members effective November 1, 2012, with mandatory usage from July 1, 2013.[46] This was said to be possible as "CPA" became a protected designation within the control of the Institute following the 1960s merger with the province's certified public accountants.[56][11], but is currently based upon trademark registration.[57]
  • On November 16, 2012, CMA Ontario announced that it intended to reenter discussions, but only after ICAO had undertaken the creation of CPA Ontario.[58]
  • On November 27, 2012, CGA Ontario announced that it still favoured integration, but only "under the right circumstances".[59]
  • On May 1, 2013, both the ICAO and CMA Ontario released statements to their members notifying them that their organizations have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), signalling the commencement of formal unification negotiations, following the official merger of the national CA and CMA organizations. A proposal was introduced to the members in May, with subsequent approval by members from both organizations in June 2013.[60][61]
  • In June 2013, the ICAO adopted the business name of "Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario" ("CPA Ontario").[62]
  • On October 24, 2013, CGA Ontario returned to unification discussions[63] and announced that they had also signed the MOU as of February 3, 2014.[64]
  • Effective April 1, 2014, CMA Ontario members officially became associate members of CPA Ontario, thus entitled to use the CPA designation.[46]
  • On May 1, 2014, a unification agreement was announced between CPA Ontario and CGA Ontario, subject to ratification by the latter's members. Contingent on such ratification, CGA Ontario members are scheduled to become associate members of CPA Ontario on July 2, 2014, and operational transitions will be complete by March 2015. Provision is made for proportionate representation from the legacy accounting bodies over a three-year period and retention of legacy designations until November 2022. Licensing of public accountants will continue to be administered by the Public Accountants Council for the Province of Ontario.[65]
  • On June 18, 2014, it was announced that the unification agreement had been approved by both sides, with effect from July 2014.[66]

Implementation in British Columbia

In May 2013, a merger agreement was announced with respect to all three accounting bodies in the province.[67] Pending the necessary legislative measures to create an amalgamated body,[68] the designation was introduced in BC after the passage of by-laws by all organizations, as ratified in the Miscellaneous Statutes Amendment Act, 2014 by the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia.

Establishing a new national body

In July 2012, the CICA and CMA Canada boards approved the commencing of work to establish CPA Canada as the national body for the unified profession. On establishment, the first priority will be the creation of the new CPA certification program, with the first CPA exams expected to be scheduled in Fall 2015.[69]

As of January 1, 2013, Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) was formed under the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act.[70][71]

As of October 9, 2013, CGA-Canada entered into an Integration Agreement with CPA Canada.[72]


While the new designation is being implemented one jurisdiction at a time, the new CPA Certification Program is currently being brought into effect with the first Common Final Examination to be offered in Fall 2015.[73] Questions still remain as to its impact, particularly in terms of public perception of the new designation, the single point of entry into the profession, and the impact on employers.[74] There is also debate as to what effect competition from foreign bodies such as the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants may have on the Canadian scene.[75]


  1. ^ After a 1908 Act granting the ICAO exclusive rights to the CA designation[15] was [19] The Act was subsequently passed again in 1911, with concession granted to accountants who were members of DACA on December 16, 1909.[20]
  2. ^ Originally created by DACA, with membership originally restricted to chartered accountants,[24] in a move designed to prevent the GAA from moving into the growing field of cost accounting.[25]
  3. ^ originally formed as a technical self-study group of accountants working at the Canadian Pacific Railway[25]
  4. ^ subsequently incorporated by Act of the Legislative Assembly of Quebec[26]
  5. ^ those members wishing to concentrate more on management accounting left to form the Controllers' Institute of Canada (later part of the Financial Executives Institute)[27]
  6. ^ incorporated by Act of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario[28]
  7. ^ Formed mainly from accountants and auditors working in government tax offices.[30] The designation originated as LA (Licentiate in Accountancy) during 1926–1931, changing to IPA (Incorporated Public Accountant) during 1931–1936, before becoming CPA.
  8. ^ Known as "APA", in effect in the western provinces as early as 1950,[31] before merging with the Certified General Accountants at various dates as late as 1998.[32] The designation is still reserved in British Columbia,[33] Alberta,[34] Saskatchewan[35] and Manitoba.[36]
  9. ^ The designation was created once provincial societies began to be formed.[38] Originally known as "Registered Industrial and Cost Accountant" or "RIA",[39] it was simplified in some, but not all, provinces around 1967.[40]
  10. ^ with respect only to authorization of the designation's use by members of the three BC accounting bodies
  11. ^ by virtue of The Certified Public Accountants Act, R.S.O. 1937, c. 236, as amended by S.O. 1953, c. 13 (since repealed by the Legislation Act, 2006, s. 98(3), as enacted by the Access to Justice Act, 2006, S.O. 2006, c. 21, Sch. F )


  1. ^ CPA Canada
  2. ^ "ACCC not concerned by key accounting bodies' merger". August 1998. Retrieved 2014-04-24. 
  3. ^ "Case details for trade mark EU010564508". UK Intellectual Property Office. 16 January 2012. 
  4. ^ "Case details for trade mark UK00002564752". UK Intellectual Property Office. 
  5. ^ "Case details for trade mark UK00002588313". Intellectual Property Office. 
  6. ^ "Canadian trade-mark data: Application 0920675". Industry Canada. 
  7. ^ "Canadian trade-mark data: Application 0921244". Industry Canada. 
  8. ^ Janet McFarland (2011-10-06). "For accountants, what’s in a name still vexes".  
  9. ^ Richardson & Kilfoyle 2012.
  10. ^ Richardson & Jones 2007, pp. 146–151.
  11. ^ Richardson 1996, p. 91.
  12. ^ Richardson & Jones 2007, pp. 151–156.
  13. ^ "Uniting the Canadian accounting profession". May 2011. Retrieved 2012-05-01. 
  14. ^ "Now is the time to secure our future". May 2011. Retrieved 2012-05-01. 
  15. ^ An Act to revise and amend The Chartered Accountants Act, S.O. 1908, c. 42
  16. ^ "P.C. 870: Disallowance Statute of Ontario, Cap. 42., intituled An Act to Revise and Amend the Chartered Accountants Act - Min. Just.". Privy Council Office. April 19, 1909. , "P.C. 871: Disallowance Ontario Act re. Chartered Accountants". Privy Council Office. April 23, 1909. 
  17. ^ An Act to revise and amend The Chartered Accountants Act, S.O. 1910, c. 79
  18. ^ P.C. 610, P.C. 611 (March 24, 1911)
  19. ^ Richardson 1993, pp. 220–221.
  20. ^ An Act respecting Chartered Accountants, S.O. 1911, c. 48
  21. ^ Deirdre McMurdy (December 2011). "The changing accounting landscape". CA Magazine. Retrieved 2012-05-31. 
  22. ^ "Consultation with leading stakeholders - Report of key findings". May 2012. Retrieved 2012-05-31. 
  23. ^ William Lahey,  
  24. ^ "The Canadian Society of Cost Accountants". The Canadian Chartered Accountant (Toronto: Dominion Association of Chartered Accountants) X (1): 31–34. July 1920. Retrieved June 24, 2014. 
  25. ^ a b Richardson 2000, p. 110.
  26. ^ An Act to incorporate the Association of Accountants in Montreal, S.Q. 1880, c. 88
  27. ^ a b Richardson 1996, p. 90.
  28. ^ An Act to Incorporate the Institute of Accountants of Ontario, S.O. 1883, c. 62
  29. ^ Richardson 2000, p. 99.
  30. ^ Richardson & Kilfoyle 2012, p. 10.
  31. ^ The Manitoba Accredited Public Accountants Act, S.M. 1950, c. 103
  32. ^ The Certified General Accountants Amendment Act, 1998, S.S. 1998, c. 11
  33. ^ Accountants (Certified General) Act, R.S.B.C. 1996, c. 2, s. 14(3)
  34. ^ Regulated Accounting Profession Act, R.S.A. 2000, c. R-12, Sch. 2 , par. 3(c)
  35. ^ The Certified General Accountants Act, 1994, S.S. 1994, c. 4.11, s. 21(3)
  36. ^ The Certified General Accountants Act, C.C.S.M. , c. C46, s. 9(2)
  37. ^ J. Nelson Allan (1982). History of the Society of Management Accountants of Canada. Hamilton: Society of Management Accountants of Canada. p. 21.  
  38. ^ Richardson 2000, p. 112.
  39. ^ The Society of Industrial and Cost Accountants of Ontario Act, 1941, S.O. 1941, c. 77
  40. ^ The Society of Industrial Accountants of Ontario Act, 1967, S.O. 1967, c. 129
  41. ^ "Bill 7: Chartered Professional Accountants Act".  
  42. ^ "Votes and Proceedings".  
  43. ^ "Acts Proclaimed". Saskatchewan Gazette (Part 1) 110 (46): 2383. November 14, 2014. 
  44. ^ regulatory bylaws approved on October 22, 2014, noted at "The Accounting Profession Act"Public Notices: . Saskatchewan Gazette. October 31, 2014. pp. 2286–2305. , to come into force upon proclamation
  45. ^ "Bill 9: The Chartered Professional Accountants Act".  
  46. ^ a b c "Use of the CPA Designation in Ontario". ICAO. July 2014. 
  47. ^ "Bill 15 (progress)".  
  48. ^ "CPA, CA Tagging". CPA PEI. 
  49. ^ "Bill 27".  
  50. ^ "Progress of Bills".  
  51. ^ "Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bermuda Amendment Act 2014 Commencement Day Notice 2014". 
  52. ^ Luis Millan (November 2011). "Quebec accountants formally sanction unity". The Bottom Line. 
  53. ^ Tim Shufelt (2012-05-17). "Accounting merger hits the rocks".  
  54. ^ Jeff Buckstein (Mid-May 2012). "Ontario hurdles critical to hopes of national unity". The Bottom Line. Retrieved 2012-05-18. 
  55. ^ Jeff Buckstein (June 2012). "Ontario talks off, merger in trouble". The Bottom Line. Retrieved 2012-05-25. 
  56. ^ Richardson & Kilfoyle 2012, p. 12.
  57. ^ "Canadian trade-mark data: Application 0922430". 
  58. ^ "Message to members". CMAO. 16 November 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-29. 
  59. ^ "All members of the profession must benefit". CGAO. 27 November 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-29. 
  60. ^
  61. ^
  62. ^ "Unification Update September 2013". September 25, 2013. 
  63. ^ "CGA Ontario to re-enter unification discussions with CPA Ontario and CMA Ontario". October 24, 2013. 
  64. ^ Three Ontario bodies sign MOU to unify the profession in that province, CPA Canada, February 3, 2014, retrieved February 12, 2014 
  65. ^ "Unification Agreement - Key Terms: Unifying the Accounting Profession in Ontario". May 1, 2014. 
  66. ^ "Members Vote In Support Of Unification". CPA Ontario. June 18, 2014. 
  67. ^ "BC’s Accountants Unite under Chartered Professional Accountant Designation". ICABC/CMABC/CGABC. 9 May 2013. Retrieved 2 November 2013. 
  68. ^  
  69. ^ "CPA Canada update". 2012-07-31. Retrieved 2012-08-14. 
  70. ^ "CA/CMA letter to members". 2013-01-04. Retrieved 2013-01-05. 
  71. ^ "Federal Corporation Information - 8305633". Corporations Canada. 2013-01-01. Retrieved 2013-01-15. 
  72. ^
  73. ^ "The CPA Certification Program". April 2014. p. 15. 
  74. ^ Ryan, Lento & Sayed 2012.
  75. ^ Ryan, Lento & Sayed 2012, p. 7.

External links

  • Official website
  • - CGA unification update webpage.

Further reading

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