CPA Standoff: Financial transparency a key issue in national accounting rift
Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada rejects provincial claims of poor financial transparency and says it is open to doing more
Note: This is the second article in a five-part series.
OTTAWA, October 1, 2023 – The leadership of both CPA Ontario and CPA Quebec want increased financial transparency from CPA Canada. As reported in part one of our series, Carol Wilding, the president and CEO of Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario, cited “increased financial transparency and accountability” as one of three core principles in its rift with the national body.
Similarly, Geneviève Mottard, president and CEO of l’Ordre des comptables professionnels agréés du Québec, cited “increased financial transparency from CPA Canada regarding the funds remitted to it.”
The Collaboration Accord that CPA Canada and the provinces signed to work together in 2016, following unification of the legacy bodies a few years earlier, established that there would be a compulsory review after two years. That started in 2018 but, despite an ongoing review, discussions, and deliberations over the past five years, “we were just simply too far apart with Canada on some of the fundamental issues,” said Wilding.
“Fundamental differences of opinion exist with CPA Canada, and we reached a stalemate,” said Wilding.
“Our Council could not let the status quo continue. So, they took the difficult decision to withdraw from the existing agreement so that we could create a future way of working together that is fit for the profession going forward — one that enables us to best deliver our legislated mandate, protect the public and advance the profession here in Ontario,” she added.
CPA Ontario’s legislative responsibility for the oversight of the profession has not changed since the Accord was signed.
But “the world has changed dramatically since 2016, and the pace of change continues to accelerate," said Wilding. "The demands on our profession are greater than ever, and we must be positioned to continue to protect the public and assist CPAs in delivering on the trust, rigour and expertise that our profession is known for,” she elaborated.
“That is where strengthened oversight comes in. For example, as stewards of our member dues, we need greater transparency over how the money we give to CPA Canada to deliver education is used so we can ensure it is being deployed efficiently and advancing education as quickly as possible to meet the evolving environment.
“A concern of ours was related to a consistent lack of financial transparency and accountability from CPA Canada to the PTBs when it comes to how the funds given to CPA Canada to deliver pre-certification education are used,” she elaborated.
CPA Canada rejects financial transparency claims
CPA Canada pushes back on the claim of a lack of transparency on how membership dues are spent. “We outright reject those accusations. It’s simply not the case,” said Pamela Steer, FCPA, FCA, president and chief executive officer of CPA Canada, speaking at a member information session prior to the One National Conference 2023 in Halifax.
“As an organization created for and by CPAs, nothing could be more important than transparency and accountability,” said Steer. “We’ve taken steps in the last year to even further enhance that transparency and improve the information provided both [individual members] as well as our PTB partners,” she added.
She noted that CPA Canada has started providing quarterly reports to PTB partners and is open to providing even more transparency.
“I consulted with every PTB asking for their concerns and suggestions. There has been an unprecedented level of review at detailed granularity by all the PTBs with CPA Canada, including all of the CFOs of each organization and at the national body to really find out where the money is spent that we just went through,” said Steer.
“We have revamped the financials this year in the annual report so it is much more accessible to the members to understand where [their] money goes. We are fully transparent. We are responsive, and we are accountable to both our membership classes,” she added.
Jeff Buckstein, CPA, CGA, is a freelance business journalist in Ottawa. Title image: iStock composite. Read the entire CPA Standoff series:
Part One: CPA standoff: Ontario government sticks to sidelines in governance dispute.
Part Two: CPA Standoff: Financial transparency a key issue in national accounting rift
Part Three: CPA Standoff: Unique regulatory status of CPA Quebec complicates accounting rift
Part Four: CPA Standoff: Accountants question the motives behind national accounting rift
Part Five: CPA Standoff: Why haven’t the other provincial bodies joined the accounting rift?