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Quiz: Test your knowledge of the Canadian accounting profession

Just in time for Canada Day, discover notable accountants and important milestones for accountancy in the country

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two office workers relaxing outside in the city, laughing while using a tabletFrom helping others to winning awards, professional accountants are often in the headlines. Test your knowledge of the profession with these 10 questions. (Getty Images/Hero Images)

From past to present, CPAs have contributed—both personally and professionally—to our beloved nation, Canada. To celebrate Canada Day, take this quiz and test your knowledge of accounting in the country.

1) What year did Joy Thomas become president and CEO of CPA Canada? 

a) 2007
b) 2016
c) 2002
d) 2018

2) Excel is an indispensable software tool for accountants. When was the program first released?

a) December 1997
b) October 1995
c) November 1987
d) September 1985

3) How many members does CPA Canada have in the country and abroad?

a) 310,000
b) 217,000
c) 201,000
d) 315,000 

4) Where did Lt.-Col Eleanor Haevens first utilize her accounting designation in a military setting, helping ensure soldiers and suppliers were paid? 

a) Afghanistan
b) Iraq
c) Bosnia
d) Sudan

5) Who was Canada’s first female auditor general?

a) Sheila Fraser
b) Ellen Fairclough
c) Anne Marie Boyer
d) Cecille Ratney

6) Which Canadian Olympic athlete holds a CPA designation? 

a) Alexandre Bilodeau
b) Hayley Wickenheiser
c) Percy Williams
d) Donovan Bailey 

7) Name the CPA who walked away with Canada’s CFO of the Year Award for 2019.

a) Nathalie Bernier
b) Michael Rousseau
c) Pamela Steer
d) Gord Nelson

8) Canada was the first jurisdiction outside of the U.K. to establish a CFO Leadership Network under what initiative? 

a) Enhancing Audit Quality (EAQ) initiative
b) The Prince of Wales’s Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S)
c) Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
d) Sustainable Development Initiative (SDI)

9) How much is the CPA Canada’s cash prize awarded to the top CFE writer worth?

a) $15,000
b) $5,000
c) $10,000
d) $25,000

10) Navdeep Bains, FCPA and Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, has a nickname. What is it?

a) Minister of Data
b) The Numbers Guy
c) Numbers Mastermind
d) Minister of Everything



Joy Thomas, FCPA, FCMA, was appointed president and CEO by the board of directors effective April 1, 2016. Prior to this, Thomas was executive vice-president of CPA Canada and had also served as president and CEO of the Society of Management Accountants of Canada (CMA Canada). In June, Thomas was honoured at the 2019 Most Powerful Women in Accounting Awards.


Microsoft Excel was first released on September 30, 1985 for the Macintosh. The first Windows version was released in November 1987. A well-known spreadsheet system, it’s an integral part of the accountants’ toolbox allowing them to do everything from creating pivot tables to processing complicated data.


CPA Canada has 217,000 professional accountants registered in Canada and abroad. As the most sought-after designation according to Randstad Canada, “accountant” also made its list of top 15 in-demand jobs in Canada for 2019 and topped the roundup for the best finance and accounting jobs. 


With her CPA, CGA designation, Lt.-Col Eleanor Haevens was first deployed in Bosnia for six months where she helped ensure soldiers were paid with benefits and suppliers’ bills were settled. Alongside the armed forces, Haevens helped rebuild the local Bosnian banking system, which had failed due to the war. 


A woman of influence in the accounting world, Sheila Fraser became the first female auditor general serving from 2001-2011. She joined the Office of the Auditor General as Deputy Auditor General in 1999, after 18 years as partner with Ernst & Young. She is now a trustee with the IFRS Foundation, the oversight body of the International Accounting Standards Board, and sits on the board of directors for Manulife Financial Corporation and the Manufacturers Life Insurance Company.


Olympic gold medalist, and retired freestyle skier, Alexandre Bilodeau, turned CPA after studying at Concordia University. He now works at KPMG. In October, Bilodeau will be inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.


Pamela Steer, FCPA, FCA and CFO of the Workplace Safety And Insurance Board accepted Canada’s CFO of the Year Award on April 25 at a gala event in Toronto, Ont. The former CFO of Fusenet Inc., Steer is also a member of the Canadian Chapter of the Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S)—run in partnership with CPA Canada—and is part of its Global Advisory Council.


Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) and The Prince of Wales’s Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S) launched the Canadian Chapter of the A4S CFO Leadership Network. The initiative works with chief financial officers and their teams across Canada to integrate economic, environmental and social issues into business strategy, processes and decision making.


Every year a $5,000 cash prize is given to the top writer of the Common Final Examination (CFE) along with the Governor General’s Gold Medal. In 2018 Toronto’s Lawrence (Qianyu) Zhang received the prize and award. Zhang beat out 6,163 candidates across Canada and took the first spot in the CFE Honour Roll—a list that includes the mere top one percent of candidates.


A self-professed “numbers guy”, Navdeep Bains, FCPA, and minister of innovation, science and economic development, is known as the “Minister of Everything”. The four-term Liberal MP, who took his current reign in 2015, is hooked on data and artificial intelligence, with his ministry expected to release a policy on digital and data before this year’s election.


You answered eight or more questions correctly:
Congratulations! You’re a savvy CPA who knows the history of accounting in Canada, the profession’s major contributions, the “who’s who” of CPAs and the current “need-to-knows”!

You answered five to seven questions correctly:
Your knowledge about the profession is fair, but you could brush up on the details. Consider reading about Canadian accounting history and keep abreast of industry shifts and people of influence.

You answered zero to four questions correctly: 
You’re in need of a refresher! In the words of American author James Baldwin: “Know from whence you came. If you know whence you came, there are absolutely no limitations to where you can go.”