Institute Of Chartered Accountants Of Ontario

Institute Of Chartered Accountants Of Ontario

June 26, 2008 11:48 ET

Ontario Chartered Accountants Support Competition Panel Finding: Call for Harmonization of Professional Standards Mirrors CA Institute Position

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 26, 2008) - A key recommendation from a landmark study on Canada's competitiveness echoes a call made by Ontario's Chartered Accountants to modernize professional standards to ensure they match those of our international trading partners in an increasingly globalized economy.

Compete to Win, the final report of the Competition Policy Review Panel, was submitted today to the federal Ministry of Industry following a year of nationwide consultations with stakeholders. In January 2008, the Ontario Institute submitted a detailed paper for the panel's consideration, calling for nationally consistent standards of qualification and conduct for public accountants, to remedy the "patchwork quilt" of lower or, in some cases, no legislated standards.

"Our submission specifically called for public accounting qualification and conduct standards across Canada to be raised to a nationally consistent, internationally recognized level that protects the public and ensures we continue to meet our international trading partner obligations," said Brian Hunt, FCA, President and CEO of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario. "As a model we pointed to the U.S. Uniform Accountancy Act, which extends consistent public accounting standards across more than 40 U.S. states and territories in a similar way."

This is important because right now, in many provinces, you don't even need an accounting designation to perform this essential function, which provides independent assurance that a company's financial statements are an accurate reflection of their financial condition. "In our view this is totally unacceptable for an advanced economy such as Canada's in a global investment environment," Hunt said.

The panel's recommendation on this issue, on page 92 of the report, states that:

"Canada should harmonize its product and professional standards with those of the U.S., except in cases where, and then only to the extent that, it can be demonstrated that the impairment of the regulatory objective outweighs the competitiveness benefit that would arise from harmonizing."

"There is no conceivable down-side to moving to nationally consistent standards for public accounting qualification and conduct," Hunt said. "On the contrary, maintaining the status quo puts the rest of Canada offside with Ontario and Quebec - home to the lion's share of the country's capital markets and public companies - where the practice of public accounting is regulated by legislation to an internationally recognized standard consistent with those of our major trading partners."

In Canada today, only the CA designation maintains these internationally recognized standards in all provinces and territories. Because these standards have been found to have equivalent rigour to those of our major trading partners, Canada's Chartered Accountants have earned mutual recognition agreements with leading international accounting bodies, including the United States' CPA designation. As the panel's report recommends for jurisdictions across Canada, this already harmonizes public accounting standards between Ontario and the United States.

That said, Hunt took issue with a reference on page 80 of the report suggesting that Ontario has been slow to ensure full competition among accounting designations in the provision of public accounting services.

"On the contrary," Hunt noted, "Provincial legislation, which took effect two years ago, opens the field of public accounting to all recognized designations that can meet those same, internationally respected standards of qualification and conduct as specified in the law itself. This ensures that Ontario continues to maintain a level playing field with the United States, much as the panel recommends elsewhere in its report."

In tandem with the panel report's release, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario has launched a stakeholder education advocacy campaign to advance the case for public accounting standards modernization and other Ontario CA public policy priorities, called CAs for Change. It features a dedicated website (www.casforchange.ca), a series of special supplements in the Ontario edition of The Globe and Mail, and advertising in leading business publications.

About the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario:

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario is the qualifying and regulatory body of Ontario's 33,000 CAs and 5,000 CA students. Since 1879, the Institute has protected the public interest through the CA profession's high standards of qualification and the enforcement of its rules of professional conduct. Recognized internationally, the CA designation denotes financial expertise, strategic thinking, business insight and leadership. The Institute website is: www.icao.on.ca and the student website is www.ca2b.biz.

Contact Information

  • The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario
    Perry Jensen
    (416) 969-4271 or 1-800-387-0735 ext. 271
    Cellular (416) 508-4798
    Email: pjensen@icao.on.ca
    Website: www.icao.on.ca