Opinion: By separating from CPA Canada, Ontario and Quebec organizations are treating members like children

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Toronto’s Bay Street financial district on August 5, 2022.Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Kevin Dancey, CM, FCPA, FCA, is the former Senior Partner and CEO of PwC Canada, former President and CEO of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) and CPA Canada, and is currently CEO of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC). He writes in a personal capacity.

In 1955, Pete Seeger wrote the classic folk song Where have all the flowers gone? Replace “Flowers” ​​with “Leaders” and the song, which is a meditation on death, aptly describes the current state of leadership of the chartered professional accounting profession in Canada, where, if not death, it There is certainly an apparent shortage of leadership.

This is a sad situation and completely unnecessary. This situation was precipitated by the announcement by CPA Ontario and CPA Quebec of their withdrawal from their current working relationships with the Canadian CPA profession.

What is the central problem?

We all have to guess. But I feel like it’s pretty simple. CPA Ontario and CPA Quebec want to make the national organization a service center under the control of the provinces. They want control. When going through all of their public statements, this is the only conclusion that resonates.

Anything else is misdirection and doesn’t pass the smell test. I could be wrong. But until these organizations explain how the proposed measures are good for the profession and for Canada, I must assume that my assumption is correct.

The opportunities, challenges and public policy responsibilities of our great profession have never been greater. The 220,000 Canadian CPAs know this. Why don’t some of our leaders do this? Why do provincial leaders focus instead on internal disputes and power grabs? Why are they working to plunge the profession into an era of uncertainty, with unintended consequences that are unlikely to be good for our profession?

Accountants oppose Ontario and Quebec’s plan to divide governance of the profession

As a Canadian CPA, I don’t have many requests for my professional orders, but I do have a few:

First of all, keep my badge, my designation, shiny. I’m proud of it. Focus on the things that help me and amplify the role of Canadian CPAs in creating a strong and vibrant Canadian economy. Do not waste time on this current conflict which is embarrassing the Canadian accounting profession nationally and internationally. That’s not why I pay my dues.

Second, recognize that Canada’s accounting profession is a functional federation with a division of labor. Provincial and territorial agencies are regulatory bodies. The national body is the entity that unites our profession, supports the establishment of accounting and assurance standards, develops national programs (certification examination and tax training), and serves as a voice for the profession at the national and international.

From time to time, conflicts may arise within such a structure. Welcome to the Canadian federation. But when that happens, Canadian CPAs expect to be treated like adults. They expect to be told the truth in clear, simple language. They expect to be consulted. After all, it is their profession, not a profession “owned” by a provincial, territorial or national organization.

Unfortunately, since the leaders of CPA Ontario and CPA Quebec announced their withdrawal, we have been treated by these organizations like the children of an arrogant parent. We receive consultant-approved messages that misrepresent, misrepresent, and do not address the core issue. We are told to stand down, shut up and let them decide our fate.

They tell us that the profession begins and ends with provincial regulatory bodies. No, this is not the case. It begins and ends with the 220,000 CPAs who work in every sector of business and Canadian society to make Canada a better place to live and work.

In my opinion, ceding control of everything that the profession encompasses to provincial regulators is not the right course of action. This is not how Canada works, and it does not bode well for the Canadian CPA profession and its current and future members. Additionally, shouldn’t provincial regulators focus on regulating and not controlling all aspects of the national CPA profession?

This is a question that must be debated and discussed with all Canadian CPAs who have a direct interest in this great profession. Canadian CPAs are an intelligent and thoughtful group. They can fix this problem.

Actor Peter Finch’s last role was as presenter Howard Beale in the 1976 film. Network. His classic line, leaning out the window, was: “I’m mad with rage and I’m not going to take this anymore.” » This is how I feel about the current situation. And I bet most Canadian CPAs do it too.

Pogo’s famous quote also comes to mind: “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” »

If you agree, talk about it. Engage with the CEOs and boards of your provincial organizations in Ontario and Quebec. Tell them they need to stay in their respective lanes, focus on their own areas of responsibility, work together respectfully when needed, and work to enhance the value of the CPA designation and our great profession.

It’s not difficult, but time is short. Show your support for leaders who want to bring the profession together, not tear it apart.

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