Michael Bach addresses the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs

Posted in : Blog
Posted on : May 20, 2017

Speaking Notes

Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario Act, 2017

Good afternoon Mister chairman, and committee members. I want to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak with you today. I'm here to speak on one specific component of this legislation, that being Schedule 3, the Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario Act.

At the outset, I want to be clear that we at the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion supports the amalgamation of the three accounting bodies into the Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario. We believe that this amalgamation will help to provide clarity in the market and offer increased protection for consumers.

That said, I appear before you today, as I did in 2010, to object to one piece of this legislation. That being Clause 29, which we believe to be exclusionary toward Internationally Trained Accountants. It's ironic that I am speaking today, which is Toronto Newcomer Day, in celebration of immigrants in this city.

I should not need to tell you that immigration is the only way forward for this province. According to the 2016 Census, Canada's fertility rate stands at 1.6. To maintain our population by biological means alone, that rate must exceed 2.1. As was reported only a few weeks ago, seniors over the age of 65 now outnumber Ontarians 14 and under. Simply put, without immigration we will experience population decline. Without immigration, not only will this province not experience financial growth, we will experience economic contraction.

You know all this. If you don't, you haven't been paying attention for the past 20 plus years as economist, statisticians, researchers and people like myself have been ringing the alarm bells. None of this is news.

Clause 29 of the Act refers to prohibitions of the use of the CPA designation. Essentially that no individual, other than members of CPA Ontario, may hold themselves out as a Chartered Professional Accountant. Seems logical. But what about the thousands of Internationally Trained Accountants who come to Ontario with a depth of education and experience, and a foreign designation?

The Government appears to have attempted to address that concern. Clause 29, subsection 2 outlines three exceptions where an Internationally Trained Accountant may use their foreign designation. Specifically:

1. a speech or other presentation;
2. an application for employment or a private communication respecting the retainer of the individual’s services; or
3. a proposal submitted in response to a request for proposals.

I must admit that when I read the exceptions, I thought the Government had done an okay job in covering its basis. It wasn't until I took the opportunity to speak to individuals who would be impacted by this legislation that I saw the bigger picture.

I would like to read a passage from an email exchange between myself and one such individual from last week, and I quote:

During the very difficult first few years I spent in Canada, the one thing that gave me strength was my accounting designation and the ability to proudly display that on my email signature, business card, letterhead and social media in addition to my resume. This made networking so much easier and the legislation enacted in 2010 took away these rights and thereby stripped away the last bit of dignity that I had left as a newcomer to Canada.

End quote

Dignity. That's the word I want you to focus on.

Normally, I would appear before you to provide a clearly articulated argument that speaks to the financial impacts of Clause 29. But the argument I will make today is a morale one. This is not right.

We actively encourage people to uproot their lives and move half way around the world to make Ontario their home, only to tell them they are somehow less than because they don't have any Canadian experience or a Canadian designation.

We don't believe CPA Ontario is deliberately trying to create barriers for Internationally Trained Accountants. We don't believe newcomer advocates are looking to lessen protections or the authority of the governing body of the Accounting profession. We do believe that in nearly a decade we have yet to find a solution that supports both positions.

Our recommendation to you today is a simple one: Amend Clause 29 to indicate that an Internationally Trained Accountant may use their foreign designation provided they clearly state the issuing jurisdiction in parenthesis immediately after, and the individual expressly indicates that they are not a member of CPA Ontario and are not governed by CPA Ontario. Full stop.

Such a change would ensure that Internationally Trained Accountants may use their designation, and at the same time provide protections for Ontarians. Such a change would allow Internationally Trained Accountants to properly leverage their skills and experience to find employment in their chosen profession, which ultimately would positively impact the financial position of this province. Such a change would allow Internationally Trained Accountants to maintain their dignity.

I urge you to make this change for the sake of our province's future, and the people who choose to call it home.

Thank you for your attention, and I will happily take any questions you may have.

******

Read the entire Hansard report from the Standing Committee on Finance and Ecomonic Affairs on Monday, May 15, 2017 here.

Tags Blog CCDI CPA Diversity diversity and inclusion Inclusion Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs

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