Quebec CGAs Gain Full Practice Rights
CNW Telbec and CGA-BC Staff
December 19, 2007
Montréal –The Ordre des comptables généraux licenciés du Québec (CGA-Quebec), achieved an historic milestone today when the National Assembly adopted Bill 46 ("An Act to amend the Professional Code and the Chartered Accountants Act in respect of public accountancy").
The new legislation authorizes Certified General Accountants (CGAs) to practice public
accountancy and extends their field of practice to include private-sector audits. Henceforth, CGAs holding a public accountancy licence issued by CGA-Quebec will be able to conduct assurance engagements, i.e., audit and review engagements, and to issue special reports.
CGA-Quebec Board Chairman Pierre Samson, FCGA, pointed out that CGAs have waited many years for these legislative amendments. "This is an historic occasion. An injustice that had prevailed since 1946 has now been rectified. The former measures prohibiting CGAs from conducting private-sector audits were wholly without merit. CGAs have all of the necessary skills to fulfill that role," said Samson.
The bill has national implications. In the words of a CGA-Canada communiqué: "This landmark law eliminates the final legislative barrier in Canada for CGAs to provide full public accountancy services and ultimately will provide the choice and competition in the marketplace essential to ensure quality and reasonable prices. In fact, the federal Competition Bureau reported last week that barriers to practicing public accountancy in Canada have not been necessary to protect the public."
CGA-BC President Gordon Clissold, FCGA, applauded the decision and congratulated Quebec’s CGAs on the victory.
“As CGA enters its centennial year, I am happy to see Quebec CGAs finally gain the full practice rights they have deserved for so very long. This is a political triumph for the Ordre and a victory for CGAs across Quebec,” said Clissold. “Today we’ve seen the overdue dismantling of an unfair monopoly that will be to the benefit of businesses in every sector.”
Under the former legislative provisions, CGAs were authorized to conduct audits of municipalities with multi-million-dollar budgets but were prohibited from auditing private-sector companies, regardless of size.
"That situation was in violation of the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT)," noted Samson.
In August 2005, a special AIT task force concluded that measures prohibiting CGAs in New Brunswick from practicing public accountancy in Quebec were inconsistent with AIT provisions. In light of that conclusion, Quebec's Minister of Justice called on the Office des professions to hold discussions with the three provincial accounting associations concerning the sharing of full public accountancy practice rights.
Bill 46 will also strengthen public protection mechanisms. All accountants who wish to practice public accountancy will have to obtain their auditor designation, regardless of which accounting association they belong to. The new legislation will benefit not only the accounting sector in Quebec, but also the wider business community, particularly small businesses, which make up the majority of Quebec employers.
“Bill 46 will pave the way for greater competition in the area of public accountancy. Companies will have access to a larger pool of qualified assurance service providers, which should benefit the business community and the overall economy,” added Samson.
CGA-Quebec represents the interests of 10,500 members, candidates and students.