Highlights of the CPA Act

By CPABC; published in CPABC in Focus
Published: July/August 2015

From the CPABC Regulatory Affairs Team

On March 25, 2015, the Chartered Professional Accountants Act received Royal Assent, and what started as a bill became a law of the province. By the time this issue of the magazine reaches you, the CPA Act will have been proclaimed, bringing the bylaws, bylaw regulations, and policies into place to complete the governance framework for our new profession.

Highlighted here are some of the key provisions of our new legislation.

The first part of the Act sets out provisions for the organization and its purposes, the functioning of the board of directors, annual meetings and elections, and the process through which the board is authorized to make bylaws.

Now officially amalgamated, the Certified General Accountants Association of British Columbia, the Certified Management Accountants Society of British Columbia, and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of British Columbia continue on as a corporation known as the Organization of Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia, which may operate under the name Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia, CPA British Columbia, or CPABC. Please note that the legacy bodies ceased to exist immediately on the proclamation of the new Act. All assets, liabilities, and responsibilities previously held by the legacy bodies have now been assumed by CPABC.

The objects or purposes of the organization remain as follows:

  • To promote and maintain the knowledge, skill, and proficiency of members and students;
  • To establish qualifications and requirements for admission and the continuation of membership, and for the enrolment and continuation of enrolment of students;
  • To regulate members and students;
  • To establish and enforce professional standards; and
  • To represent the interests of members and students.

The Act includes sections relating to professional accounting corporations, registered firms, practice review, investigations, and hearings.

The section of the Act dealing with designations and prohibitions is of particular interest, as it reserves the use of the titles “Chartered Professional Accountant” and “Professional Accountant” to CPABC members in good standing and registered firms.

The practice of professional accounting is restricted to CPA members in good standing as authorized by CPABC, and comprises:

  • Performing an audit engagement and issuing an auditor’s report in accordance with the standards of the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada;
  • Performing any other assurance engagement and issuing an assurance report in accordance with the standards of CPA Canada; and
  • Issuing any form of certification, declaration, or opinion with respect to information related to a financial statement or any part thereof on the application of financial reporting standards of CPA Canada, or specified auditing procedures in accordance with the standards of CPA Canada.

This is an important change, as being the sole provider of these services to the public in British Columbia gives our profession a profound responsibility.

Another significant change from previous legislation is that CPABC now has custodial powers such that it may apply to the provincial court for an order appointing CPABC or another person/registered firm to take control over all or part of a practising member’s/firm’s property in situations where the member (or former member) is unable to continue managing their practice. This is a valuable addition to the tools we have at our disposal to ensure that the interests of the public are protected.

The legislation also includes provisions that provide for an effective and seamless transition to CPABC.


Use of CPA Designation by Members

Since the fall of 2013, members have had the choice of continuing to use their legacy designation on a stand-alone basis or tagging their legacy designation with CPA. With the enactment of CPABC legislation, the legacy bodies have ceased to exist and all members are now regulated by CPABC. To ensure that the identity of the regulator is clear, the CPA designation must be used by all members who wish to use their designation. Accordingly, members must use CPA, accompanied by their legacy designation. This means your credential must be listed as “CPA, CA”; “CPA, CGA”; or “CPA, CMA” effective June 24, 2015.

In order to avoid wastage and extra printing costs, members are permitted to use up their existing business cards and letterhead for the remainder of 2015; however, all members are encouraged to make the change as soon as possible.

Please refer to our website at bccpa.ca for additional information and a set of FAQs.


Use of CPA by Firms

We know that firms have been anxiously awaiting proclamation of CPA legislation in order to be able to use “CPA” and “Chartered Professional Accountant(s)” in their signage. Now that proclamation has occurred, firms must immediately use the CPA designation, in their name and/or descriptive style, with no legacy reference, on all audit reports, review engagement reports, compilation engagement reports, and other material and correspondence that relates to the provision of public accounting services (such as engagement letters, invoices, management letters, and responses to requests for proposals).

In order to avoid wastage and extra printing costs, firms are permitted to use up their existing business cards and letterhead for the remainder of 2015; however, all firms are encouraged to make the change as soon as possible.

With respect to legacy references on firm websites, firms have until June 30, 2016, to change all references to “CPA”; however, early change is strongly encouraged. And recognizing that it can be particularly costly to change signage, the profession is giving firms until December 2017 to install CPA signage; however, early adoption is strongly encouraged.

Note that only firms—not individual members—will be permitted to use and/or display the CPA logo. Firms seeking to use and/or display the CPA logo are advised to read the guidelines and application information on the CPABC website at bccpa.ca.