Accounting professional designations in Ontario

“Accounting activity in Ontario falls into two categories, only one of which is licensed. The unlicensed field encompasses the work of those in industry and services to individuals, businesses and other organizations, which do not involve the adding of credibility for the reliance of third parties. These services do not require legislative regulation.

The licensed field is called public accounting. It deals with the adding of credibility to the financial statements of ‘second parties’ – individuals, businesses and other organizations, for reliance upon by ‘third parties’ – the public. It is this function, governed by the Public Accountancy Act, which requires a single standard on which the public can rely”.

Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario


There are three professional accounting designations in Ontario:

All of them require both education and experience. There are no clear advantages or disadvantages among them. Each enables its members to do different kinds of work.

The Public Accountancy Act regulates public accounting in Ontario. Read more.

Up until now, only CAs have the authorization, through legislation, to practice public accounting. However, on August 29, 2003 the Ontario government announced its Public Accounting Reform, which proposes to lead to a new direction for public accounting licensing, standards and governance. The intention is to give all qualified accountants from all three professional designations access to the practice of public accounting.

You can learn more details about these designations from the websites of their regulatory bodies.

Chartered Accountant (CA) 

The CA designation is awarded by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario

Certified General Accountant (CGA) 

The CGA designation is awarded by the Certified General Accountants Association of Ontario. as a result of professional studies and experience.

Certified Management Accountant (CMA) 

The CMA designation is awarded to qualified candidates by the Society of Management Accountants of Ontario. Explore this website to learn more.

Other major websites that provide information on accounting designations include: 

1) a mutual exchange of privileges; specifically : a recognition by one of two countries or institutions of the validity of licenses or privileges granted by the other
Source: Miriam Webster dictionary –