Canada's CAs advise caution as country prepares to adopt new labour mobility rules
TORONTO, January 16, 2009 – The Chartered Accountants of Canada welcome efforts by the prime minister and premiers to remove barriers to labour mobility but urge caution in the approach taken.
The first ministers used an Ottawa meeting today to approve modifications to the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) aimed at ensuring full labour mobility in Canada. The CA profession supports the goal of government leaders to ensure labour market flexibility during these unsettled times, but stresses that it is important to guard against unintended consequences for professional standards.
“Canada’s CA profession has long supported unfettered professional mobility for our members,” said KevinDancey, FCA, President and CEO, Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants. “The profession’s harmonized and mutually recognized standards provide CAs with full professional mobility here in Canada, across North America and with our major international trading partners.”
While qualification standards for Canada’s CAs are uniformly rigorous and meet recognized international standards, the same is not true when it comes to the legislated qualification requirements in the specific field of public accounting outside the CA profession, which vary significantly from province to province.Some provinces, such as Ontario and Quebec, home to Canada’s largest capital markets, impose demanding,internationally recognized, legislated qualification standards. However, some other jurisdictions do not require practitioners to meet the same internationally recognized standards in public accounting that are currently met by all of Canada’s CAs.
The proposed new rules under AIT require automatic recognition of entrants from one jurisdiction seeking to practice their occupation in another jurisdiction. It is the CA profession’s view that the new certification rules could trigger a “race to the bottom” in terms of required qualification standards to perform audit and assurance work in Canada.
“Large and small investors and lenders rely on the integrity of assurance and audit services provided by public accountants to help them make informed investment and lending decisions,” said Dancey. “This makes the practice of public accounting relevant to all Canadians and critical to maintaining Canada’s high regard in the global capital markets. Reducing qualification standards may tarnish Canada’s reputation at a time when confidence in the world’s economies and markets is already at its lowest ebb in decades.”
CAs conduct the vast majority of all audit and assurance engagements in Canada.
“There is a trust and comfort level associated with the extensive training and knowledge associated with a CA,” said Dancey. “We are simply asking our political leaders to ensure that public accounting qualification standards in Canada facilitate true inter-provincial labour mobility, and continue to protect consumers and the public while meeting a level of rigour that is internationally recognized.”
The Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA), together with the provincial,territorial and Bermuda Institutes/Ordre of Chartered Accountants, represents a membership of approximately 74,000 CAs and 10,000 students in Canada and Bermuda. The CICA conducts research into current business issues and supports the setting of accounting, auditing and assurance standards for business, not-for-profit organizations and government. It issues guidance on control and governance, publishes professional literature, develops continuing education programs and represents the CA profession nationally and internationally. CICA is a founding member of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) and the Global Accounting Alliance (GAA).
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