Chartered Professional Accountant

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Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA; French: comptable professionnel agréé) is the professional designation which united the three Canadian accounting designations that previously existed:

CPA Canada is the national organization that represents the profession, and the CPA designation has been in use by members of all constituent accounting bodies in the provinces, territories and Bermuda since 2014.[2][3] The legislative process for implementing the new designation began in Quebec in May 2012, and was completed in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut in January 2019.

CPA Competency Map[edit]

The CPA Competency Map lays the foundation for the CPA certification program, including education, accreditation, examinations, and practical experience requirements, and describes the knowledge, skills and proficiency levels you must achieve to become a Canadian CPA.[4]

Technical Competencies[edit]

  1. Financial Reporting
  2. Management Accounting
  3. Strategy & Governance
  4. Audit & Assurance
  5. Corporate Finance
  6. Taxation

Enabling Competencies (2020)[edit]

  1. Acting Ethically and Demonstrating Professional Values
  2. Leading
  3. Collaborating
  4. Managing Self
  5. Adding Value
  6. Solving Problems and Making Decisions
  7. Communicating

Former CFE Competency Map (2019):

  1. Professional & Ethical Behaviour
  2. Problem solving & Decision making
  3. Written & Oral communications
  4. Self Management
  5. Leadership & Teamwork


Origin of name[edit]

"Chartered Professional Accountant" is borrowed from a similar but aborted Australian merger attempt in 1998.[5][6] It has been registered as an EU Community trademark by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.[7] However, applications to register "CPA" as such were either withdrawn[8] or refused.[9]


CMA Canada awareness campaign (2007). There was great interprofessional rivalry happening between the three organizations prior to amalgamation.

For more than 100 years, Canada has seen several accounting designations, which eventually coalesced around the titles of "chartered accountant", "certified management accountant" and "certified general accountant". In time, it became increasingly harder to distinguish between them, as candidates in all bodies had to essentially meet the same requirements for entry. The Quebec government undertook a review which resulted in the goal of a merger under common regulations.[10]

Registration as a Canadian trademark was originally sought by the Ordre des comptables agréés du Québec in September 2010, but the application lapsed.[11] It was subsequently secured by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario in August 2011.[12]

In January 2012, A Framework for Uniting the Canadian Accounting Profession was issued by the following three organizations: the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA), the Society of Management Accountants of Canada (CMA Canada) and Certified General Accountants of Canada (CGA-Canada). This framework set out a proposal to unite members of the existing designations and their 40 national and provincial accounting bodies into the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada), employing a common CPA designation.[13]

On October 1, 2014, the union of Canada's accounting profession became complete with the integration of the CGA-Canada and CPA Canada, placing all of Canada's recognized national accounting bodies under the singular CPA banner.[14] The Canadian CPA designation has since grown to more than 210,000 members in Canada and around the world.[15]

Reason for Canadian adoption[edit]


The move to adopt the CPA designation was the latest of a series of consolidating moves that has affected the Canadian accounting profession between 1880 and 2010,[16] of which the last significant merger occurred between Canadian chartered accountants and certified public accountants in the 1960s.[17] Several attempts were made to merge the CGAs and CMAs during the 1960s, as well as of all three bodies during the 1970s.[18] 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.[19]

In 2011, all three main bodies agreed to work towards a merger that would see a new organization with 180,000 professional members and 10,000 candidates and registered students. This new accounting body would be one of the largest in the world.[20] Proponents of the 2012 proposal to unite the profession under the CPA argued that it would strengthen the influence, relevance and contribution of the Canadian accounting profession with domestic and international stakeholders and serve the public interest through common codes of conduct, disciplinary systems and licensing regimes.[21]

The guiding principles for the unification were expressed to be:

  • Evolution to a single designation over a 10-year transition period
  • Continued use of existing designations (used in combination with the CPA, e.g.:CPA, CGA)
  • 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[22]


 Major events
establishment of DACA[a 1]
DACA becomes CICA[a 2]
new CPA designation introduced in Quebec
formation of CSCA[a 3][a]
creation of CICA Handbook
formation of General Accountants' Association[b]
GAA becomes CGA Canada
formation of Association of Accountants in Montreal[c][a 4]
CSCA split[d]
CA/CPA merger
formation of CPA Canada
creation of ICAO[e][a 5]
restructuring of DACA as a federation of provincial Institutes[28]
RIA designation superseded by CMA
Accredited Public Accountant[i]
Certificate of efficiency[40][26]
Registered Industrial Accountant[j]
Timeline of Canadian accounting profession and designations
  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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Originally created by DACA, with membership originally restricted to chartered accountants,[23] in a move designed to prevent the GAA from moving into the growing field of cost accounting.[24]
  2. ^ originally formed as a technical self-study group of accountants working at the Canadian Pacific Railway[24]
  3. ^ subsequently incorporated by Act of the Legislative Assembly of Quebec[25]
  4. ^ those members wishing to concentrate more on management accounting left to form the Controllers' Institute of Canada (later part of the Financial Executives Institute)[26]
  5. ^ incorporated by Act of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario[27]
  6. ^ In Quebec, the Licentiate in Accountancy was first granted by McGill University in 1918,[29] which was granted statutory recognition as a professional designation in 1920.[30] It was subsequently replaced by "Certified Public Accountant" in 1927.[31]
  7. ^ In English Canada, United Accountant (UA) was a predecessor designation, granted by the United Accountants and Auditors in Canada from 1920 (successor to the Society of Independent Accountants and Auditors formed in 1918).[32] The UA designation was held not to infringe the protected designation of CA.[33]
  8. ^ In Ontario, formed mainly from accountants and auditors working in government tax offices.[34] The designation originated as LA (Licentiate in Accountancy) during 1926–1931,[35] changing to IPA (Incorporated Public Accountant) during 1931–1936,[36] before becoming CPA.[37]
  9. ^ Known as "APA", in effect in the western provinces as early as 1950,[38] before merging with the Certified General Accountants at various dates as late as 1998.[39] The designation is still reserved in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick.
  10. ^ The designation was created once provincial societies began to be formed.[41] Originally known as "Registered Industrial and Cost Accountant" or "RIA",[42] it was simplified in some, but not all, provinces around 1967.[43]


  1. ^ CPA Canada
  2. ^ "It's official! 190,000 PROS, one designation". Retrieved 2017-06-04.
  3. ^ McFARLAND, JANET (2014-06-23). "Canadian accountants merge under CPA designation". Retrieved 2017-06-04.
  4. ^ "The CPA Competency Map: Qualifications for the Canadian CPA designation". CPA Canada. CPA Canada. Retrieved 12 June 2020.
  5. ^ "ACCC not concerned by key accounting bodies' merger" (Press release). Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. 18 August 1998. Retrieved 2017-09-15.
  6. ^ Khadem, Nassim (October 3, 2013). "Accounting bodies CPA and ICAA in trans-Tasman war over members". Australian Financial Review.
  7. ^ "Case details for trade mark EU010564508". UK Intellectual Property Office. 16 January 2012.
  8. ^ "Case details for trade mark UK00002564752". UK Intellectual Property Office.
  9. ^ "Case details for trade mark UK00002588313". Intellectual Property Office.
  10. ^ "Accounting designations get together -". 2013-09-24. Retrieved 2017-06-04.
  11. ^ "Canadian trade-mark data: Application 0920675". Industry Canada. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  12. ^ "Canadian trade-mark data: Application 0921244". Industry Canada. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. ^ "A framework for uniting the Canadian accounting profession". Retrieved 2017-06-04.
  14. ^ Agency (October 3, 2014). "Minister Findlay congratulates CPA Canada on their official unification". Canada Revenue Agency. Archived from the original on December 18, 2014.
  15. ^ "Memorandum of Understanding between Canadian CPA bodies and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan". CPA Canada. April 12, 2017.
  16. ^ Richardson & Kilfoyle 2012.
  17. ^ Richardson & Jones 2007, pp. 146–151.
  18. ^ Richardson 1996, p. 91.
  19. ^ Richardson & Jones 2007, pp. 151–156.
  20. ^ "Uniting the Canadian accounting profession" (PDF). May 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-09-16. Retrieved 2012-05-01.
  21. ^ "Let CA, CMA and CGA give way to CPA". Financial Post. Retrieved 2017-06-04.
  22. ^ "Now is the time to secure our future" (PDF). May 2011. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-04-25. Retrieved 2012-05-01.
  23. ^ "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.
  24. ^ a b Richardson 2000, p. 110.
  25. ^ An Act to incorporate the Association of Accountants in Montreal, S.Q. 1880, c. 88
  26. ^ a b Richardson 1996, p. 90.
  27. ^ An Act to Incorporate the Institute of Accountants of Ontario, S.O. 1883, c. 62
  28. ^ Richardson 2000, p. 99.
  29. ^ "Desautels: History". Desautels Faculty of Management, McGill University. Archived from the original on August 26, 2017. Retrieved September 14, 2017.
  30. ^ Loi constituant en corporation l'Association des comptables, S.Q. 1919-20, c. 118 (in French)
  31. ^ Loi modifiant la Loi des comptables, S.Q. 1927, c. 61 (in French)
  32. ^ Richardson 1993, pp. 221-222.
  33. ^ Institute of Chartered Accountants of Manitoba v Bellamy, 1926 CanLII 242, [1926] 4 DLR 230 (7 July 1926), Court of Queen's Bench (Manitoba, Canada)
  34. ^ Richardson & Kilfoyle 2012, p. 10.
  35. ^ The Association of Accountants and Auditors Act, 1926, S.O. 1926, c. 124
  36. ^ The Association of Accountants and Auditors Act, 1931, S.O. 1931, c. 143
  37. ^ The Certified Public Accountants Act, 1936, S.O. 1936, c. 68
  38. ^ The Manitoba Accredited Public Accountants Act, S.M. 1950, c. 103
  39. ^ The Certified General Accountants Amendment Act, 1998, S.S. 1998, c. 11
  40. ^ J. Nelson Allan (1982). History of the Society of Management Accountants of Canada. Hamilton: Society of Management Accountants of Canada. p. 21. ISBN 978-0-920212-45-5.
  41. ^ Richardson 2000, p. 112.
  42. ^ The Society of Industrial and Cost Accountants of Ontario Act, 1941, S.O. 1941, c. 77
  43. ^ The Society of Industrial Accountants of Ontario Act, 1967, S.O. 1967, c. 129

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]