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Friday News Roundup June 26, 2020: Trump TN ban next?, Mindbridge, Deloitte, and MNP

Odds and ends in Canadian accounting stories from the past week

Author: Colin Ellis

TORONTO, June 26, 2020 – It was a busy week in Canadian accounting, with CPA Canada announcing a change in leadership at the very top, which dominated all other accounting profession news. Here are a few of the other Canadian accounting-related stories from the past week: 

Trump freezes work visas; will the TN visa be next?

On Monday, U.S. President Donald Trump announced a freeze on immigration until the end of the year, stating the U.S. will not issue new employment-based visas under the H-1B, H-2B, J, and L visa categories. Canadian accountants who travel across the border for work are not affected at the moment but, as reported by Canadian Accountant, cross-border CPAs should not take the U.S. President’s immigration whims lightly. 

“At the moment it is still too early to say with certainty how the proclamation will affect Canadians as a whole,” says Andy J. Semotiuk, a U.S. and Canadian Immigration Lawyer. “It is clear there will be no effect on TN visas under the NAFTA/USMCA agreement. As for L-1 inter-corporate transferees, those who are currently working in that category should be OK and will not be affected. 

“However, it is not clear whether new L-1 visa applicants from Canada will be affected by the change in policy, partly because Canadians do not enter the U.S. on visas — they are visa exempt. That being so, the language of the order seems to preclude Canadian applicants from its consequences. The dust needs to settle and the fog has to clear before we will have a definitive answer.” 

CPA Canada released the following statement to Canadian Accountant: “Canadian CPAs believe in the value of an open border for working professionals and the North American economy. We are concerned that these restrictions may add further uncertainty to labour mobility in an economy already hit by the coronavirus and related border restrictions. 

“It appears that the new rules will not affect professionals who are currently eligible under the terms of a free trade agreement to conduct temporary work in the U.S. We continue to monitor the situation.” 

Mindbridge named World Economic Forum Tech Pioneer

Mindbridge, the Ottawa-based maker of Ai Auditor, was named this week as a 2020 Tech Pioneer by the World Economic Forum. While the Big Four accounting firms have all invested millions in their own artificial intelligence auditing software solutions, Mindbridge has been embraced by mid-tier accounting firms as a competitive advantage. 

Mindbridge was one of six Canadian companies that made the international list of 100 tech firms. Companies that have made the list in previous years include international tech giants Airbnb, Google, Twitter, Spotify and Kickstarter. 

Professional services brands could lose billions in brand value

According to the annual ranking of the World’s Top 50 Most Valuable Commercial Services Brands, by Brand Strategy, the Big Four and other professional services firms could lose over $30bn from COVID-19. “The commercial services sector is a moderately impacted industry globally and could face a potential 10% loss in brand value.” 

Deloitte retained the title of the world’s most valuable commercial services brand, following a 10% brand value increase to US$32.5 billion, the only brand in the Big Four to record an increase in brand strength this year. PwC, EY, and KPMG all placed within the top 10 in commercial services brands. 

MNP survey on Canadians’ work during pandemic

According to MNP Ltd., the insolvency practice of national accounting firm MNP LLP, nearly half of Canadians’ work situations are affected by the current pandemic. Almost two in 10 are either working reduced hours or receiving reduced pay (17%) or have lost their job (16%). In addition, many say someone in their household has lost their job (14%) or is working reduced hours or receiving reduced pay (9%). Consumer insolvencies are expected to spike in the wake of the pandemic as many Canadians were already feeling a tremendous strain on their pocketbooks. 

Colin Ellis is a contributing editor to Canadian Accountant.

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