The Four Hour Ethics CPD Requirement for Canadian CPAs
With the goal of having a workforce knowledgeable on the importance of ethics in accounting, regulatory bodies in Canada have mandated minimum ethics learning for CPAs. In 2019, CPA Canada has introduced a requirement for completion of four hours of verifiable ethics CPD in every three year period. This requirement is mandatory for all CPAs who need to earn and report CPD.
General CPD Requirements
All Canadian CPAs are required to complete at least 20 hours of CPD each year and 120 hours in every three year period. 50% of these hours (10 every year and 60 every three years) must be verifiable, meaning there is documented proof of completion.
CPD Ethics Requirement
As of 2019, all provinces have implemented a professional ethics CPD requirement. At least 4 of the 120 hours every three years must be in the area of professional ethics. These hours can be earned through one or multiple courses over this period. More than 4 CPD hours can be earned through ethics content in this period but 4 hours is the absolute minimum.
What qualifies as Ethics CPD
In order to qualify as CPD, any learning and development courses must develop or maintain the abilities required to successfully perform a member’s role. This is to ensure competence and the ability for all CPAs to meet their professional responsibilities.
In order to qualify, professional ethics courses must go beyond an awareness of the law, standards or guidelines. The program must address the application of ethical principles or theories to the laws, standards or guidelines relevant to the member’s work and professional responsibilities.
Ethics requirements can be completed through provincial CPA bodies or any third party CPD provider whose courses meet the above requirements.
Ethics CPD can be earned through a wide variety of topics including but not limited to:
- Provincial body (CPA Ontario, CPABC, CPA Alberta, etc.) regulatory updates covering the Act, Bylaws, Regulations and Code of Professional Conduct
- Regulatory updates relevant to your role and responsibilities
- Corporate social responsibility
- Ethical decision making
- Corporate codes of conduct
- Conflicts of interest
- Ethics in organizational culture
- Ethics in tech
- Whistle blowing
- Fraud and fraud prevention
This can be hard to understand at first. Let’s take a look at an example to try to simplify all of this. Looking back at the end of each year, in the past three years you need to have a minimum of 4 CPD ethics hours. So in this diagram the first period would span from 2020 to 2022.
In 2023, 2020 will be dropped and the new period will span from 2021 to 2023. Since this person earned 4 hours in 2020 and 0 in 2021 and 2022, they will need to obtain another 4 ethics hours to meet their requirements.
|2020 Ethics Hours||2021 Ethics Hours||2022 Ethics Hours||2023 CPD Ethics Hours Required|
Now that we’ve figured that out let’s do some more complex scenarios. The thing to note in all these cases is, looking back from your current year, you must always have at least 4 hours completed in the last three years.
In the first example, in 2023 the four hours earned in 2020 are erased when the new 2021-2023 period starts. Since this person earned additional ethics hours in 2021, they will only need to complete 2 hours in 2023. They are permitted to get more if they would like so they won’t need to earn them in 2024.
|2020 Ethics Hours||2021 Ethics Hours||2022 Ethics Hours||2023 CPD Ethics Hours Required||2024 CPD Ethics Hours Required|
CPD Records/Proof of Completion
Like all CPD requirements, you must hold onto all certificates and CPD documentation for at least three years. It must be available upon request for any ethics hours or verifiable CPD hours claimed. Documentation must provide evidence of your attendance and the date the course was completed.
The four hour CPD ethics requirement exists for all Canadian CPAs and is worth thinking about when choosing CPD courses. Choosing high quality courses relevant to today’s professional ethics questions can provide a strong knowledge base relevant to any role.
If you have any questions about these requirements and whether a course qualifies, reach out to your provincial CPA body.
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