Chartered Professional Accountant

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

Progress towards full adoption of the designation is substantially complete, as of September 2015:

  • The designation, with related unified professional bodies, is in effect in Bermuda and all Canadian jurisdictions with the exception of Ontario and the territories.
  • Partial implementation (i.e., adoption of the designation before amalgamation has been sanctioned), has occurred in Ontario.


Origin of name

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 However, applications to register "CPA" as such were either withdrawn or refused.

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

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. The current initiative is the latest of a series of consolidating moves that has affected the Canadian accounting profession between 1880 and 2010, of which the last significant merger occurred between Canadian chartered accountants and certified public accountants in the 1960s. Several attempts were made to merge the CGAs and CMAs during the 1960s, as well as of all three bodies during the 1970s. 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.

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. The concept of unification has received significant support from business stakeholders and accounting academics. [20] [21] [22]

  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 theOrdre 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 Enabling legislation Royal assent In force Designation in effect
British Columbia , S.B.C. 2014, c. 14 May 29, 2014 May 29, 2014 September 18, 2013 (CA) September 20, 2013 (CGA) November 9, 2013 (CMA)
, S.B.C. 2015, c. 1 March 25, 2015 June 24, 2015 [29]
Yukon , S.Y. 2016, c. 8 May 19, 2016 On a day to be fixed by the Commissioner in Executive Council Upon the Act's coming into force
Alberta , S.A. 2014, c. C-10.2 December 17, 2014 July 1, 2015 [30] July 1, 2015
Northwest Territories
Saskatchewan , S.S. 2014, c. A-3.1 May 14, 2014 [31] November 10, 2014 [32] [33] November 10, 2014
Manitoba , S.M. 2015, c. 5

(C.C.S.M., c. C71)

June 30, 2015 ss. 99-100, 109-110 on June 30, 2015 s. 38(2)-(4) on September 1, 2016 remainder of Act on September 1, 2015 [34] July 15, 2015 [35]
Ontario November 1, 2012 (CA) April 1, 2014 (CMA) July 2, 2014 (CGA) [36]
Quebec , S.Q. 2012, c. 11 May 16, 2012 May 16, 2012 May 16, 2012
New Brunswick , S.N.B. 2014, c. 28 May 21, 2014 September 1, 2014 September 1, 2014
Nova Scotia , S.N.S. 2015, c. 5 May 11, 2015 [37] ss. 13, 14(2)-(5) and 15 on July 1, 2015 [38] remainder of Act on May 11, 2015 July 1, 2015
, S.N.S. 2015, c. 30 December 18, 2015 upon proclamation
Prince Edward Island , S.P.E.I. 2014, c. 2 November 27, 2014 [39] April 1, 2015 [40] May 1, 2014 [41]
Newfoundland and Labrador , S.N.L. 2014, c. C-10.1 December 16, 2014 [42] January 9, 2015 January 9, 2015
Bermuda Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bermuda Amendment Act 2014, [9] March 26, 2014 April 11, 2014 [43] April 11, 2014
  1. With respect only to authorization of the designation's use by members of the three BC accounting bodies
  2. Offences
  3. Interim title restrictions and transitional board
  4. Exclusive right to provide reserved public accounting services
  5. one year after proclamation of Act
  6. Use of legacy and protected designations; offences
  7. At which time the prior Act will be repealed.

The implementation has been greeted with little controversy, with implementing bills generally receiving quick passage. In Manitoba, however, passage was delayed for several months because of political controversy in the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba relating to Premier Greg Selinger, culminating in the 2015 NDP leadership election. [44]

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 ACA APA CPA* GA RIA professional accountant public accountant auditor qualified auditor accountant certified accountant recognized accountant
British Columbia Green tick Y Green tick Y
Yukon Green tick Y Green tick Y
Alberta Green tick Y Green tick Y Green tick Y Green tick Y Green tick Y
Northwest Territories Green tick Y [2]
Nunavut Green tick Y [3]
Saskatchewan Green tick Y Green tick Y Green tick Y Green tick Y Green tick Y Green tick Y
Manitoba Green tick Y Green tick Y Green tick Y Green tick Y Green tick Y
Ontario LPA [4] Green tick Y [5] Green tick Y [6] Green tick Y [7]
Quebec Auditor Green tick Y Green tick Y
New Brunswick Green tick Y Green tick Y Green tick Y Green tick Y Green tick Y Green tick Y Green tick Y Green tick Y Green tick Y Green tick Y Green tick Y Green tick Y
Nova Scotia Public Accountant [8] Green tick Y Green tick Y [8]
Prince Edward Island Green tick Y
Newfoundland and Labrador LPA Green tick Y Green tick Y Green tick Y Green tick Y
Bermuda Green tick Y Green tick Y Green tick Y
  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 Certified Public Auditor
  8. or the initials "PA"
  9. protected by virtue of the , R.S.N.W.T. 1988, c. I-3, s. 11
  10. protected by virtue of the , S.N.W.T.(Nu) 1998, c. 38, s. 2
  11. or Public Accountant
  12. or Certified Practising Accountant
  13. Licensed Public Accountant
  14. required under
  15. protected by virtue of the , S.O. 2010, c. 6, Sch. C, s. 27
  16. protected by virtue of the , S.O. 2010, c. 6, Sch. B, s. 26
  17. protected by virtue of the , S.O. 2004, c. 8
  18. in French, "auditeur" or "auditrice"
  19. attached to principal designation, expressed as "CPA Auditor", "CPA auditeur" or "CPA auditrice"
  20. known as Registered Industrial and Cost Accountant
  21. protected by virtue of the , R.S.N.S. 1989, c. 369
  22. legacy designation: holders must identify themselves as "ACPA, ACA"

In addition, British Columbia has several other protected designations in use:

  • AAT ("Associate Accounting Technologist")
  • ACPA ("Associate of the Chartered Professional Accountants")

Yukon will also protect the designations "AAT" and "ACPA", and will also grant an honorary designation to be known as "CPA (Hon)".

Alberta has opted to allow all those with legacy designations to use them in conjunction with "CPA" during the first 10 years from July 1, 2015, or to use "CPA" on its own immediately. [45]

Implementation in Quebec

The unification initiative was the fifth such move since 1973, in which Quebec's accounting bodies sought to merge. [46]

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. [47] [48] [49]
  • 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. [36] 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., [12] but is currently based upon trademark registration. [50]
  • On November 16, 2012, CMA Ontario announced that it intended to reenter discussions, but only after ICAO had undertaken the creation of CPA Ontario. [51]
  • On November 27, 2012, CGA Ontario announced that it still favoured integration, but only "under the right circumstances". [52]
  • 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. [53] [54]
  • In June 2013, the ICAO adopted the business name of "Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario" ("CPA Ontario"). [55]
  • On October 24, 2013, CGA Ontario returned to unification discussions [56] and announced that they had also signed the MOU as of February 3, 2014. [57]
  • Effective April 1, 2014, CMA Ontario members officially became associate members of CPA Ontario, thus entitled to use the CPA designation. [36]
  • 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. [58]
  • On June 18, 2014, it was announced that the unification agreement had been approved by both sides, with effect from July 2014. [59]
  • Implementing legislation has yet to be introduced in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

Because of Ontario's separate licensing régime for public accountants, those holding licenses from the PACPO must identify themselves as "Licensed Public Accountants" or post the initials "LPA" immediately after their professional designation, such as "CPA, LPA", "CPA, CA, LPA", "CPA, CGA, LPA" or "CPA, CMA, LPA".

Implementation in British Columbia

In May 2013, a merger agreement was announced with respect to all three accounting bodies in the province. [60] Pending the necessary legislative measures to create an amalgamated body, [61] 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. The actual implementing legislation for amalgamating the three bodies received Royal Assent in March 2015, and came into force in June 2015.

Implementation in Nova Scotia

Unlike other jurisdictions, Nova Scotia decided not to amalgamate its legacy accounting bodies into the new CPA provincial body. It has instead declared that members of the legacy bodies must pair their legacy designation with the new CPA designation. In a news release (subsequently affirmed during debate on the bill's second reading), [62] the Province noted that this was the first of two steps in the process, with merger of the three accounting bodies and updating the regulatory framework taking place at a later date. [63] A subsequent Act was passed in December 2015 to effect the amalgamation, which is awaiting proclamation. A companion Act was passed at the same time to expand the role of the Public Accountants Board of Nova Scotia, so that it can issue separate licenses for performing auditing and non-auditing functions. [64]

The initial Chartered Professional Accountants Act received Royal Assent on May 11, 2015, while the relevant provisions relating to the use of the new designation came into force on July 1, 2015. For the next 10 years, previously designated professional accountants in Nova Scotia are required to use both the CPA designation and their legacy designation (CA, CGA, or CMA) in the following format:

First Name and Last Name, CPA, CA

First Name and Last Name, CPA, CGA

First Name and Last Name, CPA, CMA [65]

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. [66]

As of January 1, 2013, Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) was formed under the Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act. [67] [68]

As of October 9, 2013, CGA-Canada entered into an Integration Agreement with CPA Canada. [69]


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. [70] 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. 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.

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