Answering Your Questions
Since we announced our decision to conclude our current arrangement with CPA Canada and find a new way of working together we have received questions from members and students about what this means for you and for the profession.
We appreciate and benefit from your feedback. We have taken what we have heard from our engagement sessions, correspondence and one-on-one conversations to create this FAQ document. Moving forward, the way we work together across the country may change, but CPA Ontario remains committed to one CPA designation and a unified profession across Canada. Your voices are critical to this conversation and the future of the profession, and we look forward to hearing from you throughout this process.
What is the impact on students in Ontario? (Updated November 27, 2023)
The journey for a student to become a CPA will not change as a result of this decision. Students will complete all their courses, modules and examinations without disruption. This includes those whose education journey takes them beyond our withdrawal from the Collaboration Accord in December 2024.
What is the new education agreement with CPA Canada and l’Ordre des CPA du Québec? (New November 27, 2023)
CPA Ontario, l’Ordre des CPA du Québec and CPA Canada reached an agreement in November 2024 ensuring that all students in Ontario and Quebec will continue their CPA educational journey as planned and without interruption.
This new agreement ensures:
- CFE, PREP and PEP are unchanged – existing timelines and requirements remain in place.
- There will be no change for students embarking on the accredited or non-accredited pathways to a CPA designation, regardless of whether their education takes them beyond our withdrawal from the Collaboration Accord in December 2024.
- A seamless transition to the new CPA pre-certification education program, which is still in the design and development phase.
- Common standards of entry into the profession remain in place, as well as a consistent education program across the country.
- The portability of the education program and the designation will not change – students can continue to study, take exams or obtain practical experience across Canada.
Under the agreement, on behalf of and funded by the Provincial, Territorial and Bermudian (PTB) CPA bodies, CPA Canada will continue to develop the curriculum and examinations for the Preparatory courses (PREP), CPA Professional Education Program (PEP), and Common Final Examination (CFE). CPA Ontario will continue to be responsible for the education journey of students and for delivering these courses and exams.
This new agreement has been approved by every PTB.
Why did CPA Ontario take this decision? (Updated October 23, 2023)
This decision was taken to ensure the public is protected and the profession is prepared for the accelerated impact of technology and other changes that lie ahead. This is our responsibility not just to you, our members and students, but also to the public as the profession’s regulatory body and the granters of the profession’s designation in Ontario.
The Collaboration Accord, signed seven years ago following the unification of the profession’s legacy designations, was intended to serve two years in its current form before a mandatory review. Despite extensive efforts to come to an agreement with CPA Canada, we were unable to find a way forward due to some fundamental issues. Specifically:
- Strengthened direct oversight of the profession by the Provincial, Territorial and Bermudian bodies (PTBs);
- Need for structural governance changes to CPA Canada to enable this direct PTB oversight; and
- Increased financial transparency and accountability by CPA Canada to the PTBs given the funding we provide.
Furthermore, throughout that time, issues arose in relation to CPA Canada’s transparency, value for money and, crucially, the legislative responsibility we have to protect the public.
Those issues included:
- CPA Canada’s technological failures that led to the catastrophic 2019 CFE writing, as well as its response and review, led to CPA Ontario and CPA Quebec commissioning our own independent third-party review of the event so that the core issues could actually be identified and addressed.
- In a profession that prizes transparency as one of its core tenets, there continues to be concerns regarding CPA Canada’s financial transparency surrounding the education programs. We have tried continuously to get better financial information – including trying to use our contractual audit rights – but were continuously rebuffed. It appears to us that CPA Canada did not want to support a process that would result in transparency.
- CPA Canada challenged our legislative role as the regulator and voice of the profession in Ontario. Without consulting us or any of the provinces, it registered a trademark for a designation that would impact your CPA designation—the Global CPA or GCPA. Only after months of pressure from us did CPA Canada finally agree to withdraw that registration. It is still not clear to us what they intended to do with that designation.
And so, in June of this year, CPA Ontario’s Council responsibly concluded the status quo could not continue. And having made the decision to give notice of our intent to withdraw from the Collaboration Accord, we are now focused on the future and a new way of working.
Who made this decision? (Updated September 26, 2023)
The CPA Ontario Council, which is comprised of member-elected directors and public representatives, made this decision.
As the profession’s governing Council in Ontario, Council’s fiduciary duties and responsibilities include governance, oversight and regulation.
The Council did not make this decision lightly. It was made following extensive discussions over the past five years with the other PTBs as well as with CPA Canada.
Why didn’t CPA Ontario engage with members before making this decision? (Updated September 26, 2023)
The CPA Ontario Council is composed of member-elected directors and public representatives who are mandated with responsibility for the governance of CPA Ontario. This carefully considered decision by Council came following extensive discussions over the past five years with other PTBs, as well as with CPA Canada.
Once it became clear CPA Canada would not agree to an acceptable amended approach to national collaboration, CPA Ontario Council made the decision that ending our existing relationship with CPA Canada was necessary in order to fulfill our legislated mandate.
CPA Ontario is already in active discussions with our PTB counterparts on a new way forward. We have also been engaging directly with members and students through engagement sessions, correspondence, and one-on-one conversations. Council will continue to create opportunities like these for members and students to contribute their points of view and ideas on the future of our profession.
Why weren’t members able to vote on this decision? (New September 26, 2023)
CPA Ontario’s Council members are elected by you, our members, or are appointed by the Ontario Government as public representatives.
As the profession’s governing Council in Ontario, they are mandated with the responsibility for the governance of the profession—a responsibility they take extremely seriously. Part of this responsibility includes ensuring that CPA Ontario functions effectively and is able to deliver on its mandate of protecting the public and ultimately serving the profession.
This decision was not put to a vote of members for a number of reasons including that this is a contractual decision made by CPA Ontario in relation to its agreement with CPA Canada and the Collaboration Accord is not a document that was voted upon when it was entered into. Given CPA Ontario’s statutory objectives and its regulatory functions this is a decision for Council to make.
When will this change go into effect? (Updated September 26, 2023)
We are now in an 18-month transition period to re-define how we work with the other PTBs, as well as with CPA Canada.
Under the leadership of some provincial bodies across the country, CPA Ontario is already actively discussing a better way forward. As those discussions continue, Council will continue to create opportunities for our members and students to contribute their points of view and ideas on the future of our profession.
What can I expect during this transition period? (Updated September 26, 2023)
CPA Ontario services will be unchanged and uninterrupted during this transition period. CPA Canada has no role in our regulatory oversight or member services. Student learning and assessment will continue without interruption.
Having initiated this 18-month transition process, we are now in a position to engage with members and students directly, including through engagement sessions, correspondence, and one-on-one conversations. This will continue over the coming weeks and months as we define a new way forward.
What is the difference between CPA Ontario and CPA Canada?
CPA Ontario is a regulatory body created by provincial legislation and is responsible for overseeing Chartered Professional Accountants and accounting firms in Ontario.
In every province and territory in Canada and Bermuda, the accounting profession is regulated by a CPA body. It is our responsibility to:
- Protect the public through compliance, enforcement and discipline processes;
- Recruit and attract students;
- Administer the CPA certification program to students, including the CFE;
- Grant entry to the profession in Ontario and the CPA designation;
- Grant public accounting license to practice;
- Oversee CPAs and accounting firms in Ontario;
- Enable CPA mobility across provinces and internationally;
- Support and participate in standard setting; and
- Work collaboratively with other PTBs to harmonize, facilitate common entry to the profession and ensure portability of the designation.
CPA Canada is not a regulatory body. It is a federally incorporated not for profit that is composed of the organizational members, the PTBs, including CPA Ontario, as well as individual members. It does not have a legislated mandate to protect the public.
Some of its main activities include:
- Supporting standard setting in Canada;
- Representing the profession in national and international matters;
- On behalf of PTBs, developing pre-certification educational programs and exams for PTB delivery;
- Engaging in thought leadership;
- Promoting financial literacy;
- Offering professional development.
Does this mean I’m no longer a Canadian CPA? (Updated September 26, 2023)
Absolutely not. You will always be a Canadian CPA and part of a unified profession across the country. You have always been granted your designation, your public accounting license (PAL), and your mobility across provinces and internationally by CPA Ontario or another PTB, and this will not change. Our profession is strong because of the way you as CPAs work together to uphold the high standards that define our profession here and around the world. It is the rigor, knowledge and expertise that you bring to your work that makes Canadian CPAs central to business and society.
What is the impact on the unification of our profession? (Updated September 26, 2023)
There is no impact because this does not undo, or in any way affect, unification.
Unification focused on the legacy bodies coming together under one CPA designation, remaining under the legislative purview of each provincial body. Unification was done for all the right reasons and remains in the best interest of the profession and the public. This decision is about creating a new way of working with our counterparts across the country, and CPA Canada.
We are still one CPA, and that will not change.
Is this about putting the interests of one CPA body over the others? (Updated September 26, 2023)
Absolutely not. CPA Ontario has worked collaboratively with our PTB colleagues for years. We are committed to a governance process that reflects the richness and diversity of Canada, where no one body controls the Profession and decisions on matters of common interest are made collaboratively. We understand there will always be give and take in a federation, but this is about differences on fundamental issues.
What is the impact on CPA Ontario members? (Updated September 26, 2023)
We are now in an 18-month transition period and are already actively discussing a better way forward with our counterparts across the country. As those discussions continue, Council will continue to create opportunities for members to contribute their points of view and ideas on the future of our profession.
In the meantime, here’s what to expect:
- Courses, exams and professional development will not be affected. CPA Ontario will continue to administer courses, the Common Final Exam (CFE), and professional development courses.
- Ontario CPAs’ ability to work across borders will not be affected. Interprovincial mobility will remain unchanged as it is governed by provincial laws. CPA Ontario also continues to be a signatory to international agreements alongside other PTB bodies.
- Work on the new certification program will continue. We remain committed to a new certification program and to working with our colleagues across Canada to ensure that future CPAs are equipped for today’s rapidly changing business environment.
- Regulatory oversight and standards setting will remain unchanged. CPA Ontario will continue to support and fund standard-setting, including the Canadian adaptation of the recently launched International Sustainability Standards Board standards.
- Canada will continue to be represented on the world stage. We remain committed to ensuring that Canada has a strong, unified voice on the world stage on matters that affect our Profession.
Will standards for accounting in Ontario change?
No. Regulatory oversight and standards setting will remain unchanged.
CPA Ontario will continue to support and fund standard-setting and to collaborate with the other PTBs and CPA Canada to uphold the same high standards for the profession in Canada, and to advance standard setting at the international level. This includes but is not limited to the Canadian adaptation of the recently launched International Sustainability Standards Board standards.
How will you ensure issues facing CPA Ontario members are represented at a national level?
We are now engaged in an 18-month transition period to re-define how we work with the other PTBs, as well as with CPA Canada. CPA Ontario is already collaborating with our counterparts across the country and will continue to work closely, where appropriate, on joint advocacy efforts.
What is CPA Ontario’s vision for the future?
As we work to re-define our relationship with CPA Canada, we do so with this guiding vision of a future where:
- The roles and accountability of CPA Canada and CPA Ontario, and the other PTBs, are clearly defined and better fit the needs and future of the Profession.
- There is greater transparency, more efficiency and speed in the delivery and development of education content.
- There is greater collaboration amongst our PTB counterparts, and CPA Canada, on matters of national and international significance.
- CPA Ontario is responsive, nimble and innovative by making faster decisions around programs and services to meet the evolving needs of our members.
- CPA Ontario can focus on the needs of business and the rapidly changing economy while addressing challenges, such as AI, blockchain, start-ups and ESG reporting.