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Two of Canada's accounting groups agree on national organization

The Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA), the national association for CAs in Canada, and CMA Canada, which oversees the CMA designation, have announced they will launch a new combined CPA Canada oversight body as of Jan. 1.

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Two of Canada's largest accounting bodies have reached an agreement to create a national organization to oversee a new CPA Canada accounting designation.

The Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA), the national association for CAs in Canada, and CMA Canada, which oversees the CMA designation, have announced they will launch a new combined CPA Canada oversight body as of Jan. 1.

The creation of a national CPA organization is the first step in a proposal to merge CAs and CMAs throughout Canada and create a new Chartered Professional Accountant designation.

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Because accounting is provincially regulated, however, accounting bodies in each province must also agree to merge and create the new CPA title before it can be adopted in each jurisdiction.

"This is a journey, and different provinces will get to the end game at different points in time," said CICA chief executive officer Kevin Dancey.

Mr. Dancey said there are no plans to shut down the CICA or CMA Canada when the new CPA body is formed in January, because both organizations will have to continue to exist until they no longer have member provinces that have not merged.

The merger plans have been unfolding for over a year and have involved different permutations in different provinces.

In seven provinces, CAs and CMAs have agreed to pursue merger talks toward creating a joint CPA organization, and some have already put merger proposals to a vote of members. In Ontario, however, only CAs are interested in joining the CPA body and CMAs are not participating.

Provincial groups for Canada's third main accounting body – Certified General Accountants (CGAs) – have opted not to participate in merger talks in most provinces, but CGAs in Quebec have already completed a merger with CAs and CMAs and legislation has been passed to combine the three groups in that province.

In Alberta, meanwhile, CAs have not agreed to join the CPA plan, while CMAs and CGAs are in talks to merge their two provincial groups.

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The confusion means Canada will have four accounting designations – CPA, CA, CMA and CGA – for the foreseeable future, despite hopes the merger proposal will streamline the country's accounting regulation. But Mr. Dancey said he remains hopeful that all the provincial groups will over time decide to merge under the CPA banner.

"This is complicated – it is Canada," he said.

The first priority for the new CPA body will be to develop a certification program for new CPAs that will be in place in some provinces beginning next fall, with a plan to hold the first CPA exams in 2015.

Mr. Dancey said CPA Canada will have its own board of directors, which will include representatives from all three existing accounting groups as well as independent board members.

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Real Estate Reporter

Janet McFarland is the real estate reporter for The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business, with a focus on residential real estate trends. She joined Report on Business in 1995, and has specialized in reporting on corporate governance, executive compensation, pension policy, business law, securities regulation and enforcement of white-collar crime. More

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