Ordre des comptables agréés du Québec

Ordre des comptables agréés du Québec

December 14, 2006 15:44 ET

Tabling of Bill 64: The Ordre des Comptables Agrees du Quebec Will Ensure That Financial Information Remains Rigorous and Credible

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(CCNMatthews - Dec. 14, 2006) - Yvon Marcoux, Minister of Justice and Minister responsible for the application of professional laws, tabled Bill 64 today. Under the bill, Quebec's Chartered Accountants Act and the Professional Code will be amended to create a permit to practice public accounting. The Ordre des comptables agrees du Quebec has been cooperating with the Quebec Government on this matter since the end of 2005. "While we are satisfied with the tabling of Bill 64, we want the government to know that we will remain vigilant about requirements established to obtain and hold a permit to practice public accounting," said Michel Theroux, FCA, chair of the Ordre des comptables agrees du Quebec.

Two years ago, the Certified General Accountants Association of New Brunswick filed a complaint under the Agreement on Internal Trade, claiming that the exclusive practice rights granted to Quebec chartered accountants contravened the AIT section on labour mobility. At the time, Quebec was the last jurisdiction in which CAs enjoyed the exclusive right to perform audits. The decision of the special panel established to hear the complaint led Mr. Marcoux to set up a working committee, which included representatives from the OCAQ and the two other professional accounting bodies. Bill 64 is the culmination of this committee's work.

The spirit of Bill 64 is clear: only competent members from the three accounting bodies will have the right to practice public accounting and to add the title of "auditor" to their professional accounting designation. A chartered accountant who currently provides assurance services will automatically become a CA auditor. Certified general accountants (CGAs) and certified management accountants (CMAs) wishing to eventually practice public accounting will be required to comply with regulations established by their professional order, after consultation with the Ordre des comptables agrees du Quebec and approval from the government. Until the necessary regulations have been adopted, CGAs and CMAS will not be qualified to practice public accounting, except for certain organizations already referred to in the Chartered Accountants Act.

Under Bill 64, the Ordre des CGA and the Ordre des CMA will be required to adopt standards for the issuance and holding of a permit to practice public accounting comparable to those currently in effect for such practice in Quebec. "As far as the Ordre des comptables agrees du Quebec is concerned, the minimum requirements necessary to practice public accounting are the competency criteria of chartered accountants. In a period when financial scandals have accelerated the process of tightening accounting and ethical standards, it is out of the question for us to approve any relaxing of the competency criteria. It is a matter of the integrity and quality of financial information, and ultimately of the protection of the public," explained Daniel McMahon, FCA, president and CEO of the Ordre des comptables agrees du Quebec.

Currently in Quebec, all CAs are required to hold an undergraduate diploma in accounting sciences or administration. They must also have completed the graduate-level Professional Education Program, passed the Uniform Evaluation (recognized as the accounting profession's most demanding national exam) and completed a 24-month training period in a CA firm. "These steps and all the controls in place with respect to the practice of public accounting are essential to ensure the rigour and high quality of CAs' work and we will accept no half measures for obtaining the permit to practice public accounting," Daniel McMahon continued.

In Ontario, the new requirements established by the Public Accounting Council in June 2006 allowing CGAs and CMAs to practice public accounting are the requirements applicable to chartered accountants. "In evaluating the comparability of requirements that will be developed by the CGAs and CMAs of Quebec for obtaining and retaining a permit to practice public accounting, the government will not only have to consider Quebec CA standards, but it will also have to ensure that professionals who practice public accounting here compare favourably with their counterparts in Ontario," added Michel Theroux.

With a membership of close to 17,200 CAs and more than 1,400 candidates for the practice of the profession, the Ordre des comptables agrees du Quebec carries out its primary mission to protect the public by enforcing the most demanding admission criteria and ethical standards. CAs bring superior financial expertise, strategic thinking, business insight, and leadership to become an integral part of any organization.

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