New 2027 CPA Canada Certification Program

 The much-anticipated CPA Canada New Certification program, initially slated for 2025, has now been pushed back to 2027. This delay is significant, not just for its impact on timelines, but also for what it means for current and prospective CPA Canada students who must make critical decisions about what educational paths to choose.

Understanding the 2027 delay

Recent communication from CPA Ontario and other CPA provincial bodies have confirmed that the launch of the CPA Canada New Certification Program has been postponed to early 2027. This delay comes from financial struggles in CPA Canada, highlighted by layoffs and the withdrawal of Ontario and Quebec. These internal issues are raising concerns with me about the readiness and robustness of the planned new program.

Below is the communication from CPA Ontario on May 3, 2024:

Will there be CFE in the new CPA program?

Last year, CPA Canada said they want to shift away from the traditional three-day Common Final Examination (CFE). Today’s update suggests this will still be the case.

CPA Canada seems to be planning to offer “summative examinations” that incorporate case-based evaluations,  like the current CFE, but segmented into three different parts.

Below is the Draft Model, it’s not the final model, which in my opinion hints on what the new program may look like:

Above draft model, from 2023 presentation I was part of, proposed a four-level structure. Levels 1, 2 and 4 would have summative exams, similar to what CPA Canada noted in the recent update. The third level won’t have a formal exam but rather an assessment of workplace competencies.

If this draft model holds, it will alter the CPA pathway, giving you more flexibility and reducing the pressure of a single, high-stakes exam.

Additionally, the above draft model is similar to how other accounting bodies around the world hold their exams, which is my opinion is what CPA Canada is shifting towards: they want to align more closely with global standards and practices in the accounting profession.

Will the CPA exams be the same in all provinces and territories?

Yes, CPA Canada exams under the new certification program are expected to be the same across all provinces and territories. This is confirmed by CPA Ontario’s update.

This is beneficial for our CPA profession, consistency will help to maintain a standardized level of knowledge and competency among all Canadian CPAs, irrespective of their region.

Can you switch to the new CPA certification program?

Yes, you can switch to the new CPA certification program once it launches. CPA Canada is creating policies to help you move from the current program to the new one. I expect to see CFEs up to 2028, 2029 and maybe more, until all current students finish the current program and new students start the new program.

The update also said that if you transition, you’ll get exemptions so you won’t have to re-do the exams you already passed, you’ll be placed at a higher level in the new 2027 program.

Can you take the new 2027 program if you didn’t pass CFE three times?

There is no information whether you can register into the new program if you didn’t pass PEP or CFE exams three times and you were de-registered. I will update this as I get new information.

Should you wait or take the exams now?

The big question is: should you wait for the new 2027 CPA program or continue with the current CPA pathway? If you have the flexibility to delay your CPA certification, for example you don’t have CPA program expiry deadline or immediate need for the CPA designation, then I recommend to wait. You’ll get the advantage of seeing what the new 2027 program looks like and deciding which one is easier to pass.

However, if you need to get your CPA sooner, or your program expiry is coming up, it’s better to finish under the existing structure now.

Currently, we have many past exam papers to learn from and practice with, while the new program is new and different, so it may be more challenging to pass the new program, rather than the current one, simply due of lack of past exam cases. This makes the current program more advantageous.

Below is the new Competency Map 2.0 structure that will be built into the new program’s examinations.

Conclusion

The CPA Canada New Certification Program is going to be the biggest change since the unification of CA, CGA and CMA legacy designations in 2014. There’s a delay in the program’s start date from 2025 to 2027 and we know that there will be three summative examinations. It’s not clear now whether there will be CFE-like back-to-back exams or separate exams. The exams will be the same across all provinces and territories and current students can switch to the new program without losing their progress.

I recommend to wait if you can, otherwise continue with the current program and use the past exam papers to your advantage, as these won’t be available in the new program since it’s being built ground-up.

As CPA Canada keeps working on these updates, it’s important to stay updated. If you’re working towards becoming a CPA or thinking about starting, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel to stay informed about the changes and how they will impact you.