Certified General Accountants Association of Canada welcomes changes to Agreement on Internal Trade
Vancouver, January 22, 2009
The Certified General Accountants Association of Canada (CGA-Canada) applauds the changes to the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) agreed to last week by the first ministers to remove barriers that restrict labour mobility across the country.
These amendments will adopt and apply what is known as the mutual recognition principle. This principle states that anyone qualified for an occupation or trade in a province or territory will be accepted in all other Canadian jurisdictions without additional training, testing or assessment. The changes will also accept the principle that competencies and abilities can be acquired through different combinations of training and experience.
Another professional accounting body, however, has publicly stated that competition and labour mobility in the field of public accounting will lead to a “race to the bottom”. To suggest that changes to the AIT will lower standards is quite simply not true. In fact, evidence suggests that the very opposite will occur as competition results in lower prices, higher quality, and better service.
“This position expressed by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants is really about restricting competition, which certainly is not in the public interest,” says Anthony Ariganello, President and Chief Executive Officer of CGA-Canada. “Competition in the marketplace is healthy. It is good for businesses and individuals. The 2007 federal Competition Bureau study sent a strong signal to governments and regulatory bodies that laws and regulations that impede access to certain professions, such as public accounting, are unnecessary and stifle competition. In that regard, Canada’s first ministers should be congratulated for supporting the removal of unnecessary protectionist barriers and improving the labour mobility of qualified Canadian professionals.”
All of Canada’s certified general accountants (CGAs) meet national standards of qualification. Indeed, independent analysis confirms that the CGA qualification requirements and education program lead to results equivalent to those of its competitors, meet or surpass all international standards and best practices, and are sufficient to protect the public interest.
“Clearly, the time has come for CGAs to be permitted to provide public accounting services in all jurisdictions in Canada,” adds Ariganello. “An accountant who is deemed competent to practice public accounting in Alberta, for example, should be deemed competent to practice public accounting in Ontario. This is the core principle of the AIT agreement, an agreement that the Council of the Federation recently reaffirmed.”