Certified General Accountant

Certified General Accountant
Key concepts
Accountant · Accounting period · Bookkeeping · Cash and accrual basis · Cash flow management · Chart of accounts · Journal  · Special journals · Constant Item Purchasing Power Accounting · Cost of goods sold · Credit terms · Debits and credits · Double-entry system · Mark-to-market accounting · FIFO & LIFO · GAAP / IFRS · General ledger · Goodwill · Historical cost · Matching principle · Revenue recognition · Trial balance
Fields of accounting
Cost · Financial · Forensic · Fund · Management · Tax
Financial statements
Statement of financial position · Statement of cash flows · Statement of changes in equity · Statement of comprehensive income · Notes · MD&A · XBRL
Auditor's report · Financial audit · GAAS / ISA · Internal audit · Sarbanes–Oxley Act
Accounting qualifications
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Certified General Accountant (CGA) is the designation of professionals who are jointly members of the Certified General Accountants Association of Canada (CGA-Canada) and a provincial or territorial CGA association, or a CGA association overseas. Provincial, territorial and offshore CGA affiliate associations work collaboratively with CGA-Canada as part of a federation.

A CGA is an accounting professional with expertise in finance, taxation, business strategy, auditing, management and business leadership. CGAs must meet the education, experience and examination requirements established, and regularly enhanced, by CGA-Canada.

CGA-Canada had 47,500 members and 25,500 students in 2009, making it the fastest growing and second largest professional accounting designation in Canada. The CGA program of professional studies is offered in Canada, Bermuda, the Caribbean, Hong Kong and mainland China.

CGAs work throughout the world in industry, commerce, finance, government, public practice and the not-for-profit sector.



The national association, first known as the Canadian Accountants' Association, was founded in 1908 by a trio of Canadian Pacific Railway accountants in Montreal, Quebec. Five years later, in 1913, the General Accountants' Association, as it was then known, was granted a charter from the government of Canada. By the mid-1940s, association chapters were established from coast-to-coast. Provincial, territorial and regional (offshore) chapters were later established under their own charters.

Auditing rights are regulated by provincial governments. In Prince Edward Island, only qualified CAs and CGAs can perform public accounting and auditing in accordance with the Public Accounting and Auditing Act. In all other provinces, except Quebec and Ontario (detailed below), only qualified CAs, CGAs, and CMAs (Certified Management Accountants) may audit public companies.

Historically Quebec and Ontario only allowed CAs to audit public companies. However, CGAs and CMAs can audit a selected list of public bodies in Quebec. In 2004, the Ontario government passed legislation that would enable CAs, CGAs and CMAs to practice public accounting under a reconstituted Public Accountants Council, and as of June 2010 Ontario CGAs are now allowed to issue audit opinions.

In August 2005, the Agreement of Internal Trade (AIT) panel issued a report recommending Quebec to change its legislation by opening public auditing to qualified accountants who are not CAs. On November 20, 2009, Quebec passed regulations granting statutory auditing rights to qualified CAs, CGAs and CMAs.


CGA-Canada's professional education program is competency-based. Competency-based education requires candidates to perform tasks and roles to standards expected in the workplace.[1]

The knowledge, skills and professional values required of a CGA are reflected in a list of competencies. These competencies extend over three areas: professionalism, leadership and professional knowledge. They are validated periodically through extensive survey analysis. The CGA Competency Framework details the 130 competencies required of a newly certified CGA.

The complete academic program consists of 19 courses, two business cases, and professional qualification exams, spread over several levels: Levels 1 to 3 (Foundation Studies), Level 4 (Advanced Studies), and final level, the PACE qualification or certification level.[2]

A CGA must have an undergraduate degree and have completed 36 months of approved work experience in positions of increasingly senior levels of responsibility.

Before issuing audit opinions a CGA must first be licenced as a public accountant. The requirements for licensing include at least 500 public accounting hours per year. Public accounting is a defined term, and excludes some accounting work such as preparation of personal income tax returns. Licensing rules will slow the entry of CGAs into public practice considerably. For practical purposes CGAs already perform much the same work as other accountants and the ability to conduct audits is unlikely to affect their professional practices.

CGA is also recognized in 170+ countries through their partnership with ACCA.

Online learning

CGA-Canada is a leader in providing online professional accounting education. Via the Internet, students can complete their studies using a system that integrates text material, study guides, video and audio tools, discussion forums, group case study and project work, web research and email. This highly flexible, online program allows students to work full-time while studying on a part-time basis.

In addition to its own online program of studies, CGA-Canada has also developed online degree partnerships with several Canadian universities.[3]


CGA-Canada develops research and supports positions with a view to influence social policy, regulation and standards-setting.

Since 2004, this initiative has resulted in 12 research items. [1]

  • Issue in Focus - Fair Value Accounting: The Road to Be Most Travelled (January 2010)
  • The Public Underwriting of Private Debt:The Prospect of Industry Targeting (December 2009)
  • Where Has the Money Gone: The State of Canadian Household Debt in a Stumbling Economy (May 2009)
  • The Federal Budget Surplus: Surprise or Strategy? (July 2008)
  • Where Does the Money Go: The Increasing Reliance on Household Debt in Canada (October 2007)
  • Fading Productivity: Making Sense of Canada’s Productivity Challenge (May 2007)
  • Tackling Compliance: Small Business and Regulation in Canada (October 2006)
  • Demystifying Income Trusts (March 2006)
  • The State of Defined-Benefit Pension Plans in Canada: An Update (November 2005)
  • Measuring Up: A Study on Corporate Sustainability Reporting in Canada (June 2005)
  • Growing Up: The Social and Economic Implications of an Aging Population (January 2005)
  • Addressing the Pensions Dilemma in Canada (June 2004)

Mutual recognition agreements

On 18 December 2006, CGA Canada and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) announced a Mutual Recognition Agreement to take effect on 1 January 2007.

On 8 April 2008, CGA Canada and CPA Australia entered into a Mutual Recognition Agreement to extend the global reach of both organizations into new continents. [2]

On 3 June 2009, CGA Canada and CPA Ireland [3] entered into a mutual recognition agreement. The MRA establishes a strategic partnership between the two leading accounting organizations and gives members the opportunity to qualify for another designation. [4]

On June 2010, CGA-Canada and the Conseil Supérieur de l’Ordre des Experts-Comptables (CSOEC), France’s foremost accounting organization, have entered into a mutual recognition agreement (MRA). Under this accord, CGAs and members of the CSOEC can be considered for membership by the other body. [5]

See also

CGA association websites


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