Full Guide to CPD Hours for Canadian CPAs

As a designated CPA in Canada, you’re probably aware of the continuing professional development (CPD) requirements necessary to maintain your membership. In this post, I’ll guide you through understanding CPD and how to fulfill your requirements fast and cost effectively.

Understanding CPD hours

CPD stands for continued professional development. It’s a mandatory element for keeping your Canadian CPA membership, and it’s consistent across all provinces. The idea behind CPD is straightforward: as a CPA, your knowledge must remain current in a world where industry standards, regulations and technology are constantly changing. So you’re required to take courses or seminars every year to keep your knowledge fresh. This is CPD in a nutshell.

There are two requirements: (1) yearly minimum requirement and (2) 3-year “rolling” requirement. There are also two categories of CPD: verifiable and unverifiable.

To meet the (1) yearly minimum requirement, you must get a yearly minimum of 20 hours, split evenly between the two (ie, 10 hours verifiable, 10 hours unverifiable). You’ll learn the difference between the two soon.

To meet the (2) 3-year “rolling” requirement, you must get 120 hours in total in three years.

For example, let’s say you got 20 hours in Year 1 and 20 hours in Year 2. So far, you have 40 hours in total and you’re meeting the requirements. In Year 3, you must get 80 hours to get total 120 hours and meet the (2) 3-year “rolling” requirement. If you get only 20 hours in Year 3, you’ll still meet the yearly minimum requirement, but you won’t meet the 3-year rolling requirement, because you’ll have 60 hours in total. 

So I suggest getting 40 hours a year. Getting 40 hours per year (20 hours verifiable, 20 hours unverifiable) guarantees that you won’t need to catch up in any of the years and you’ll always have 120 hours in a 3-year rolling period.

Verifiable vs. Unverifiable CPD

Unverifiable CPD hours are the ones you are not required to prove through documentation: think of activities like reading industry publications, participating in informal learning, watching educational videos, or self-study. Although no evidence is required, honesty is crucial, and you should be prepared to present a log of these activities if audited.

Verifiable hours, on the other hand, require some sort of evidence. This could be certificates of completion from online courses or attendance records from events like seminars or workshops. Activities such as networking or non-accounting related courses don’t count as verifiable nor unverifiable.

Ethics CPD Requirement

Within the 3-year rolling requirement, you must also complete at least 4 hours in ethics verifable CPD. For example, you can take courses, audiobooks, webinars or seminars on:

  • Ethical business culture
  • CSR
  • Whistleblowing
  • Anti-money-laundering
  • Bribery and corruption
  • Regulatory updates
  • Corporate codes of conduct
  • Independence/conflict of interest

Verifiable: Where to get CPD Hours

Audiobooks and online courses are the fastest and most convenient method for getting verifiable hours. They offer convenience and flexibility, allowing you to learn on the go, such as when you’re commuting to work.

Both CPA Canada and provincial CPA bodies offer courses, however they tend to be pricey. Luckily, you’re not required to take CPD from CPA Canada nor provincial bodies, you can take CPD from any reputable online source.

For example, you can get CPD from the following sources:

Unverifiable: Where to get CPD Hours

For unverifiable hours, digital publications and online videos are the easiest ways of getting CPD:

What is NOT considered CPD?

The following don’t qualify for unverifiable nor verifiable CPD:

  • Activities that are unrelated to CPA competencies
  • Taking language courses
  • Networking (for example, social functions, lunches, dinners, etc., these don’t count as CPD, unless you can show there was learning involved, like there was a speaker during the event)
  • Volunteering (exception is if the volunteer work is related to one of the above verifiable activities. For example, you can volunteer to be in the Capstone 1 panel and this qualifies for verifiable hours)

Affordable and fast CPD by Gevorg, CPA

I’m excited to announce that I will be releasing engaging and affordable verifiable CPD audio courses in the coming months. Please bookmark this post and check back in summer 2024 for updates.