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Glossary of Common Terms


These definitions are provided for clarity to assist in the interpretation of CPA practical experience requirements; they are not intended to modify or interpret provincial/regional regulations or bylaws.

Assessment: For purposes of practical experience, assessment includes CPA Ontario students performing self-assessments of the level of proficiency developed for each competency area, and CPA Ontario assessing the experience of CPA Ontario students. See also Reporting, Competency area and Proficiency level.

Assurance: “Audit” and “Review” as defined herein, and other assurance services as set out in the current CPA Canada Handbook – Assurance.

Audit: The audits of financial statements and other historical financial information as set out in the current CPA Canada Handbook – Assurance.

Autonomy: The degree of independence CPA Ontario students assume in carrying out a task. See also Circumstance and Complexity.

Breadth: The requirement for CPA Ontario students to gain proficiency in at least eight technical competency sub-areas, of which four must be at Level 2 proficiency and the remaining four at least at Level 1 proficiency, at the point of completion of practical experience. See also Depth, Core, Competency sub-area and Proficiency level.

Catch-up report: A report used by students transitioning to the CPA Ontario PER to indicate how the technical and enabling competencies developed through a legacy practical experience program, correlate to the related competencies under the CPA Ontario PER. Only practical experience previously approved under a legacy certification program can be captured in the catch-up report.

Chargeable hours: Hours supervised (directly or overall) by Member licensed to practice public accounting that are normally chargeable to clients. Chargeable hours do not include time spent on “work of a routine clerical nature.”

Circumstance: Situations are either routine or non-routine in nature. See also Autonomy and Complexity.

  • Routine — Circumstances typically encountered by and requiring the knowledge expected of newly certified CPAs.
  • Non-routine — Circumstances not typically encountered by newly certified CPAs; may require advanced technical expertise.

Competency area: One of the 11 competency areas defined in the CPA Competency Map. There are six technical competency areas:

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

In addition, there are five enabling competency areas:

  1. Professional and Ethical Behaviour,
  2. Problem-Solving and Decision-Making,
  3. Communication,
  4. Self-Management, and
  5. Teamwork and Leadership.

See also Competency sub-area and competency statements.

Competency sub-area and competency statements: The specific technical competency statements are grouped into 20 competency sub-areas. Each competency area has between three to four competency sub-areas. See also Competency area and CPA Competency Map.

Compilation: Compilations prepared while performing an external engagement service where there is reasonable expectation that all or any portion of the compilations or associated materials will be relied upon or used by a third party and the notice to reader communication is required as set out in the compilation engagement section(s) of the current CPA Canada Handbook – Assurance.

Complexity: The degree of difficulty associated with the number and nature of interrelationships and ambiguities that must be considered simultaneously. There are three levels of complexity:

  • Low complexity — Little difficulty is associated with a small number of straightforward and frequently encountered issues; may achieve competence relying on “rote” approach.
  • Moderate complexity — Medium difficulty is associated with a number of interconnections or variables that need to be considered simultaneously; circumstances may be less clear and require approaches that are not practised frequently.
  • High complexity — Considerable difficulty is associated with a large number of interrelationships and ambiguities that must be considered simultaneously; often requires innovative approaches.

See also Autonomy and Circumstance.

Core: All CPA students must demonstrate technical proficiency in any three competency sub-areas, at least at Level 1 proficiency, in financial reporting and/or management accounting. See also Breadth, Depth, Competency sub-area and Proficiency level.

CPA: Canadian Chartered Professional Accountant; while there are other international CPA designations, all references in this document refer to the Canadian designation.

CPA student / candidate: Individuals who are registered with a provincial or regional body and:

  • are enrolled in a CPA Professional Education Program (CPA PEP), either through the profession’s CPA PEP or through an accredited graduate-level program offered by a post-secondary institution; or
  • have completed the CPA PEP modules and have yet to successfully complete the Common Final Examination (CFE), and/or their Practical Experience requirements.                                                                                                                                                   

Note that the terms “candidate” or “student” may be used by provincial/ regional bodies, depending on provincial/regional regulation. See CPA student.

CPA certification program: All elements of the CPA program required for certification, including academic prerequisites, the CPA Professional Education Program, the Common Final Examination, and qualifying practical experience.

CPA Competency Map: The CPA publication that profiles the competencies required of a CPA on the path to, and upon, certification. The competency statements and defined proficiency levels for practical experience are modified from those in the CPA Competency Map. These adjustments were made to reflect what CPA students are expected to demonstrate through practical experience.

CPA Experience Verification Route (EVR): The CPA Practical Experience model in which experience reporting commences when CPA Ontario students are employed in any position that allows them to gain experience in at least one sub-competency area at least Level 1 proficiency. The experience is approved by CPA Ontario as the experience is gained. See also CPA Pre-Approved Program Route (PPR).

CPA Ontario: A professional accounting body that is a member of CPA Canada.

CPA pre-approved model: The CPA practical experience model in which CPA Ontario students are employed in a program that has been pre-approved by CPA Ontario.

CPA Pre-Approved Program Route (PPR): Programs offered by employers that allow CPA Ontario students to satisfy all of the practical experience requirements contained in this document within the required minimum term of practical experience. Pre-approved programs are monitored by the profession to ensure the approved training program is being followed. See also CPA Experience Verification Route (EVR)

CPA preparatory courses: Courses that provide those with undergraduate degrees in areas other than accounting with the specific knowledge requirements for admission to the CPA Professional Education Program. (CPA PEP)

CPA Professional Education Program (CPA PEP): The education program that CPA Ontario students must complete to become a CPA. It is delivered by the profession and by post-secondary institution programs accredited by the profession.

CPA Review: Students request a CPA Review to have their experience recognized by CPA Ontario.

CPA Review Status – Assessment Requested: CPA Review is now in queue with CPA Ontario to be assigned to an officer for review.

CPA Review Status – Cancelled: Review was cancelled by CPA Ontario Staff or student.

CPA Review Status – Completed: The CPA Review has been completed.

CPA Review Status – Follow-up: The Officer does not agree with assessment content and has provided comments as to what updates are required.

CPA Review Status – Required: CPA Review has been assigned to an Employer Relations Officer (Reviewer) and is currently under review (processing time is approximately six weeks).

Current experience: Practical experience gained on and after the PER Start Date (see PER Start Date)

Depth: The requirement for CPA Ontario students to gain proficiency in all technical competency sub-areas relating to one competency area, with at least two competency sub-areas being at Level 2 proficiency. The remaining competency sub-areas need to be at least at Level 1 proficiency. See also Breadth, Core, Competency sub-area and Proficiency level.

Diversity: Shall be determined at the discretion of CPA Ontario in consideration of a sufficient variety of audit clients, industries, and/or a variety of audit and financial reporting matters.

Enabling competencies: The five essential skills for ethical behaviour, decision-making, problem-solving, communication, and leadership required of a professional accountant. See also Competency area, CPA Competency Map, and Technical competencies.

Family member: For purposes of practical experience, a family member means an individual’s spouse, common-law spouse, natural or adopted parent, sibling, natural or adopted children, natural grandchildren or a child legally adopted by the natural or adopted child of the individual such that the child is considered a grandchild of the individual.

Foundational level: An employment position in which the majority of technical proficiency is at Level 0, with only one competency sub-area at Level 1 proficiency.

IFAC: International Federation of Accountants is the global organization for the accountancy profession dedicated to serving the public interest by strengthening the profession and contributing to the development of strong international economies.

In Progress: One of three status levels at which students are identified within PERT; the student’s employment has been confirmed in PERT.

Legacy program: A Chartered Accountant (CA), Certified Management Accountant (CMA) or Certified General Accountant (CGA) certification program.

Mentor: A member in good standing of CPA Ontario or another provincial CPA body who provides guidance to CPA Ontario students on competency development, and who models and facilitates the understanding of the CPA profession’s values, ethics and attitudes.

Pending Enrollment: One of three status levels at which students are identified within PERT; the student is awaiting employment confirmation in PERT from the Program Manager. See also Reporting Status (PERT)

PER Standard Met: One of three status levels at which students are identified within PERT; a student has met all the CPA Practical Experience Requirements (CPA PER). See also Reporting Status (PERT)

PER Start Date:  The practical experience requirements (PER) Start date is the date in PERT that practical experience will begin to accumulate towards your practical experience requirement.  Any experience accumulated after the PER start date is considered CURRENT experience and is reported through CURRENT experience reports.  Any experience accumulated before the PER start date is considered PRIOR and is reported through PRIOR experience reports.  All CPA students are eligible to claim up to 12 months of prior experience that they accumulated in the last 5.5 years.

PERT Report Status – Admin Assess (for “catch-up reports” only): Catch-up report has been successfully submitted to CPA Ontario for review.

PERT Report Status – Completed: Student has completed their report and is ready to discuss with their mentor and/or have the report verified.

PERT Report Status – New: The student has created an experience report and is in the process of filling out the technical and enabling competency requirements.

PERT Report Status – Verified: The student has submitted their report for verification, and may proceed with requesting a CPA Review if required.

PERT Review Status – Certification Requested: Student has requested a CPA Review and it is now with the Program Leader awaiting sign-off before it can go to CPA Ontario for review.

Practical Experience Reporting Log (PERL): The online tool for CPA Ontario students to report their practical experience in Quebec.

Practical Experience Reporting Tool (PERT): The online tool for CPA Ontario students to report their practical experience. PERT is used in all Canadian provinces/regions, with the exception of Quebec.

Pre-approved program leader: The senior CPA responsible for an office’s preapproved program(s). This individual is sufficiently senior to adjust the duties of CPA students to provide opportunities to obtain the technical and enabling competencies required of the training program. See also CPA pre-approved program, Mentor and Supervisor.

Pre-approved external audit program: Students must complete 30 months in the pre-approved external audit program in order to be eligible for a Public Accounting Licence at the time of admission to membership, which includes the following:
1. a minimum of 2,500 hours which includes at least

a. 1,250 chargeable hours in assurance services, of which at least 625 chargeable hours shall be in the audit of historical financial information and 100 chargeable hours of review procedures in review and other assurance engagements;
b. 100 chargeable hours in Canadian taxation services; and
c. 1,150 eligible hours, as defined in the Public Accounting Licensing Regulation [LINK], in either public accounting services or designated services;

2. have at least two years of prescribed public accounting experience under the supervision of a Member who hold a valid and current Public Accounting Licence;
3. limit the amount of time spent on secondment assignments to six months (of the 30 month practice experience term); and
4. complete all chargeable hour and competency requirements not more than five years before the end of the pre-approved program completion date.

Prior experience: Practical experience gained before the PER start date (limited to 12 months, and must have taken place within 5.5 years from the PER start date).

Proficiency level: At the point of certification, CPA Ontario students are expected to demonstrate competence (a combination of attitude, skill, and knowledge) at defined levels of proficiency. Three distinct and progressively higher levels of proficiency are described, reflecting the increase in the ability of CPA Ontario students throughout the program. Complexity, circumstance, and autonomy are considered in determining proficiency levels. Generally, as complexity increases and/or routine work decreases and/or autonomy increases, the proficiency level increases. There are three levels of proficiency:

  1. Level 0 — Experience that is at an administrative or clerical level.
  2. Level 1 — Experience that is at the professional level but lower than that expected of a newly certified CPA. This can include experience with tasks that are routine in nature, of a low level of complexity, and/or are executed with little autonomy.
  3. Level 2 — The experience level expected of a newly certified CPA.

See also Autonomy, Circumstance, and Complexity.

Public accounting: Activities as set out in section 2 of the Public Accounting Act, 2004.

Public practice: Activities typically undertaken by CPA offices, including public accounting activities.

Regional body: An organization that has been approved to deliver the CPA certification program, excluding accredited institutions.

Reporting: CPA students are required to capture all Practical Experience in experience reports using the online Practical Experience Reporting Tool (PERT). The reports contain factual information such as the type of experience being obtained (through experience verification or through a pre-approved program) and duration, as well as an assessment of the experience. See also Assessment.

Reporting Status (PERT): Students are identified within PERT at one of three different status levels at any given time:

  1. In Progress: In the Pre-Approved Program Route (PPR), the student’s employment has been confirmed by a Program Manager in a pre-approved program in PERT. In the Experience Verification Route (EVR), the student’s pre-assessment has been approved.
  2. Pending Enrollment: Student is awaiting employment confirmation in PERT from the Program Manager.
  3. PER Standard Met: A student has met all the CPA practical experience requirements.

Review: A review of historical financial statements and other financial information as set out in the current CPA Canada Handbook – Assurance.

Reviewers: individuals employed by CPA Ontario to assess any experience report submitted through PERT.

Secondment: Qualifying experience obtained outside of the Pre-Approved Program (PPR) that does not require CPA Ontario students to switch to Experience Verification (EVR). Secondment periods are limited to a maximum of 12 months.

Self-employed: Acceptable experience gained through self-employment will qualify for recognition towards CPA experience requirements for certification. However self-employment does not qualify for practical experience if the Student is practising public accounting or providing accounting services to the public. An individual is employed by:
i) a corporation which they own a majority of the shares;
ii) a partnership in which they are partner; or
iii) a sole proprietorship of which they are the sole proprietor.
Individuals who work under contract or in a consultative capacity for someone other than themselves are not considered to be self-employed.

Supervisor: The person to whom CPA Ontario students report. In Experience Verification (EVR), the supervisor verifies that the experiences of CPA Ontario students are appropriately reflected in experience reports. In Pre-Approved Programs (PPR), the supervisor assigns work according to the program. Ideally, the supervisor is also a professional accountant. See also Mentor.

Technical competencies: The six abilities expected of professional accountants and performed by professional accountants in many roles in public practice, industry, and the public sector. For the purposes of practical experience, the required technical competencies have depth, breadth and core proficiency standards. See also Competency area, CPA Competency Map, Depth, Breadth, Core and Enabling competencies.

Volunteer: Experience where there is no financial gain for the individual.