Conference for audit committees 2019

We’re living in an age of digital transformation – and companies need skilled leaders on boards and committees who are up to the challenge. Harness the opportunities that change can bring at this must-attend annual event.

Event Details

Location and date:
Toronto December 9-10, 2019

Step up to the plate and strengthen your foresight on what’s driving change globally, including new technologies, data and the rise of AI in audit.

This year’s dynamic keynote speaker is digital-first advocate Alex Benay. He’s recently pivoted to the tech startup world as Mindbridge’s newest CCO, leading global growth, and we’re excited to have him share his knowledge at the conference.

Other great speakers in the 2019 lineup include Larry Ritchie, chair of Risk Management and Crisis Response at Osler Law, who will be moderating a panel on ethical intelligence; Deborah Rosati, founder and CEO of Women Get On Board, who’s leading a talk about the power of board diversity; and Allison Walker, director at Irving Oil, with a session on what’s needed to strengthen tax governance.

Learn how being on a board can make a difference and find out what it takes to transform your organization and become a more strategic leader as you network and learn from the experts.

Hot topic sessions

ESG Issues: Why Audit Committees Should Pay Attention
Accurate and reliable data matters. Learn how to integrate material ESG factors into your organization’s financial planning, external reporting and internal control processes.

Cybersecurity and What Board Members Should Know
Find out what you need to know about digital risk, now and in the future, from CPA Canada’s recent board bulletin on cybersecurity.

How to Scandal-Proof Your Company: The Challenges of White-Collar Crime
Protect your company’s reputation and stop white-collar crime at the source. Get practical tips on how to reduce risk by implementing best practices in management oversight.

Post-conference workshops

Getting on a Board: Building Profile, Networking Mapping and How to Get Asked
Evaluate your skills and experience to determine the value you bring to a board and how to compete for a spot in today’s competitive marketplace.

Audit Committee Governance Fundamentals
Take a deeper dive into the roles and responsibilities of board directors and audit committee members, including the relationship between both groups and the importance of oversight.

Both post-conference workshops run on December 11, 2019 and are worth 3-4 CPD hours each. For more details about these offerings, the hot topic sessions above and the other exciting events at the conference, view the full agenda.

View the agenda

Special offers/promotions

  • Workshop discount: Save $195 when you purchase both workshops and the conference together.

Additional options and pricing may be available. See pricing and registration for more details.


14 CPD hour(s)
Pricing & registration

Who should attend?

  • chairs and current audit committee members who want to broaden their knowledge
  • CFOs, CEOs and other senior executives who work with their audit committees
  • CPAs, lawyers, technology/cybersecurity, and other professionals who advise audit committees
  • prospective audit committee members who want to understand more about the role

More Details:

Session Descriptions

Registration and continental breakfast

Opening Keynote Address: Future Canada
Speaker: Alex Benay, Former Chief Information Officer of the Government of Canada

Alex will take the audience into the future, fifty years to be precise, to highlight the mega societal changes driven by technology adoption. From teleportation to cyborgs, how will these trends impact our lives in the next five years? What is the future of services, of accounting? This thought exercise will permit the audience to remove themselves from their current environment and see into the future in an effort to better prepare themselves in the current world of continuous change that is before them as the pace of change continues to dramatically increase.
Alex Benay

Session Change Break

Choose one of the following:

Audit’s Rapid Evolutionary and Revolutionary Change – Are you ready?
Speakers: Bryant Ramdoo, Partner, Audit, KPMG; Andrew Watson, Assurance Senior Manager, PwC; Michael Calyniuk, Audit Committee Chair, BDC

Rapid advances in Advanced Analytics, Artificial Intelligence and Robotic Process Automation are fundamentally transforming the way auditing the past 50 years is performed – impacting methodology, tools and outcomes.

Audit Committees play a strategic role and need to understand and embrace the change.-
Michael Calyniuk ; Bryant Ramdoo ; Andrew Watson

The Simplexity Gap – Why Boards Are Always a Step Behind Their Management Teams and What to Do About It
Speakers: Mihnea Moldoveanu, Professor of Economic Analysis, Desautels Professor of Integrative, Director of the Desautels Centre for Integrative Thinking and Vice Dean, Learning, Innovation and Executive Programs at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

The simplexity gap is the yawning space between the simple expectations of board members and the complex predicaments, problems and rationale of management. It leads to failures arising from board members not understanding enough to ask the right questions at the right time. Boards that do not heed and proactively deal with the simplexity gap are flying blind. In this session, learn how to design and execute the right board communication process to help bridge the simplexity gap and restore accountability to the board.

Mihnea Moldoveanu

Networking break

Choose one of the following:

Ethical intelligence in the boardroom
Moderator: Larry Ritchie, Litigation Partner at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP and Chair of the Osler Risk Management and Crisis Response team

Panelists: Marc Tassé, Founder and CEO of Egregia Strategic Consulting Group Inc. and Part-time Professor at the University of Ottawa, Telfer School of Management & Faculty of Law; Shelley Babin, Senior Vice President, Law and General Counsel, Ontario Power Generation; Christa Wessel, Corporate Director and Chief Operating Officer & General Counsel, Clearview Strategic Partners

As media reports on corporate scandals make clear, ethics need to be at the heart and soul of every business decision. Boards are responsible for setting the tone at the top and satisfying themselves as to the integrity of the CEO and management. But how does the board assess whether the organization has a sustainable culture of integrity to support transparency and ethical decision-making and protect against the risk of fraud or damage to the organization’s reputation? Does the board understand where the organization’s strategy may create ethical risks? Join a discussion of recent examples of ethical lapses, learn how to look for warning signs and understand what tools and practices are available to the board.

Christa Wessel ; Lawrence Ritchie ; Marc Tassé ; Shelley Babin

Internal Audit – The Next Generation
Presenter: Ram Balakrishnan, Managing Director, Internal Audit Practice Lead, Protiviti

Advances in new technologies and the drive for innovation and digital transformation are upending industries and increasingly are challenging internal audit functions to remain relevant. Innovation changes the business model and, as a result, the organization’s risks. Internal audit not only must respond to these changes before becoming irrelevant, but also be prepared to assess if the business is undertaking its innovation and transformation initiatives in the best possible manner. In order to accomplish this, internal audit must innovate itself.

Audit committees continue to face crowded agendas and increasing complexity as we look forward into 2020. They must ensure they are overseeing the right risks in an environment of dynamic change including, outsourcing of many business functions and the need to adapt their oversight responsibilities when there is increasing reliance on Internal Audit (whether internal or outsourced).

During this session we will:
• Understand the challenges faced by internal audit organizations
• Describe a vision for the next generation of internal audit
• Outline the skills required for the next-generation internal auditor
• Provide examples of emerging technology changing the audit process
• How Audit Committees needs to adapt their oversight responsibilities
Ram Balakrishnan

Networking Lunch & Sponsored Session: Economic Outlook in the Shadow of Trade Wars
Speaker: – Sri Thanabalasingam, Economist for TD Bank Group

The U.S.-China trade war has injected considerable uncertainty into the global economy. As a result, investment around the world pulled back and international trade slowed. Nowhere is this more visible than in the United States. Canada, too, has not been immune to these impacts. With uncertainty still thick in the air, this economic outlook will cover the following questions: what are the implications of a protracted trade war? How much more monetary support can central banks provide? What are the possible outcomes for the Canadian and U.S. economies?
Sri Thanabalasingam

Choose one of the following:

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Issues – Why Audit Committees Should Pay Attention
Speakers: Sarah Keyes, Principal, ESG Global Advisors Inc.; Jo Mark Zurel, Corporate Director, Fortis Inc. and CPP Investment Board

Investor interest in ESG issues is driven by financial materiality. In Canada, $1 out of every $2 in professionally managed assets considers ESG factors – a 42% growth rate over the past 2 years. Increasingly, companies are facing pressure from investors to provide enhanced ESG disclosures, including quantitative metrics and targets used to measure progress on material ESG factors over time.

For Audit Committees, it is important to understand how material ESG factors are integrated into financial planning, external reporting and the associated internal controls and processes in place to ensure accuracy and reliability of ESG data. Attend this panel to learn about ESG issues and their growing relevance to Audit Committees.
Jo Mark Zurel ; Sarah Keyes, CPA, CA

Proposed Changes for the Three Lines of Defense Model
Moderator: Francis Nicholson, Managing Director Global Advocacy, IIA

Panelists: Nancy Russell, SVP Chief Internal Auditor, Great-West Lifeco; Beili Wong, VP, Audit & Risk, CAE, LCBO; Richard Arthurs, Partner, National Leader – Governance, Risk Management, Data & Information Dynamics Enterprise Risk Services, MNP

Three Lines of Defense concept first emerged over 20 years ago and has become well established among organizations and regulators, especially in financial services, as an important model for risk management and control, helping to explain and differentiate the roles played by all of the key functions and external stakeholders. As organizations have evolved, the model has been criticized for not remaining relevant to present day complexities and challenges. The Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA) has supported and promoted the model for many years and has been conducting a major review into how it can be refreshed and updated. The IIA plans to release a new Position Paper in 2020 and is pleased to share its proposals with key stakeholders as part of the ongoing consultation.
Richard Arthurs ; Francis Nicholson ; Beili Wong ; Nancy Russell

Session Change Break

Choose one of the following:

Cybersecurity and What Board Members Should Know
Speaker: Gregory Eskins, Canada FINPRO & Cyber Leader, Managing Director, MARSH

Cyber Risk has moved beyond just data breaches and privacy concerns to sophisticated schemes that can disrupt entire industries, supply chains, and nations, costing the economy billions. The unavoidable truth organizations must face is that cyber risk can be mitigated, managed and recovered from, but it cannot be eliminated.

Please join us for a candid discussion inclusive of practical take aways regarding ways to understand, measure and manage the state of enterprise cyber risk in today’s business context.

Gregory Eskins

Reporting quality performance measures – learn about best practices for overseeing financial and operational measures
Speakers: Linda Mezon, Chair, Accounting Standards Board; Allan Donald, Partner, Audit & Assurance, Deloitte

A company or organization’s ability to raise funds, perform and maintain its reputation can be at risk when performance measures reported are not of quality. As a director or other charged with governance does your oversight include:

(a) Considering disclosures made in investor and donor presentations, press releases, websites and other communications?
(b) Discussing with management the relevance of the performance measures reported to its performance and its industry or sector peers?
(c) Assessing the effectiveness of management’s processes and reporting of performance measures, including whether practices to develop an operational measure (e.g. number of volunteers or units sold) are comparable to those for non-GAAP or other financial measure (e.g. adjusted earnings)?
(d) Evaluating the transparency of performance measure disclosures, including how the reported performance measure would affect management’s compensation payouts?

Linda Mezon, FCPA, FCA, CPA (MI), CGMA ; Allan Donald

Networking Break

How to Scandal-Proof Your Company: The Challenge of White-Collar Crime
Speakers: José Hernandez, Founding Partner, Ortus Strategies; Ian Bourne, Former Chairman of SNC Lavalin; Patrice Walch-Watson, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board

Well publicized charges of money laundering and bribery have eroded Canada’s international image as a clean place to do business and are impacting institutional and retail investors alike.

This session will draw on the deep expertise of José Hernandez and Ian Borne as they open the eyes of Canadian audit committees to the darker reality we’re reluctant to believe, while guiding us to a brighter future.

It will also lean on CPPIB’s very own Patrice Walch-Watson, who will help us explore the resulting impact of white-collar-crime on investor decision making and flow of funds.

By evaluating recent failures, and highlighting important governance safeguards, Patrice, Ian and José will provide practical tips to help audit committees protect the company’s reputation and best practices in overseeing management to ensure they are stopping white-collar crime at the source.

José Hernandez ; Patrice Walch-Watson ; Ian Bourne

Networking Reception

Continental breakfast

Keynote Address: Audit Committees in the eye of the social media hurricane
Speaker: Estelle Métayer, Principal, Founder, Competia

Social media have overtaken traditional means of communication to customers, employees and shareholders, yet few Boards have the tools and processes to allow the ability to respond to emerging crisis, or to tap to the opportunity to build resilience and connect directly to stakeholders. In this energetic session, we will demystify how audit committee are increasingly playing a role in that context and how their role is changing. We can discuss the following, based on real case studies:

• Ensuring compliance to disclosure requirements in the age of social media
• Anticipating and explaining stock surges due to social media activism and activity
• Managing reputation risk for the company and responding to social media crises
• Developing and supervising social media as an emerging official, but also unofficial, channel of communication to the public and to shareholders
• The particular agility to build in case of cybersecurity breaches gone viral
• Dealing with a social CEO
• Dissecting the digital activity of the activist shareholder or stakeholder
• The role of internal audit in the social media communication oversight
• Building pro-actively lines of defense
• Structuring the board processes to allow rapid alignment and decision making
Estelle Métayer

Session Change Break

Choose one of the following:

Fiduciary Responsibilities – What Are The Key Board and Audit Committee Responsibilities and What Is Your Master Plan For Meeting Them?
Moderator: Sheila Smigarowski, Founder, Sheila Smigarowski Consulting and Coaching

Panelists: Louise Paradis, Corporate Secretary and Special Advisor to the President and CEO, BDC; Daryl Yeo, Corporate Director

In this session, we will explore the key fiduciary oversight responsibilities of the Audit Committee and discuss a variety of strategies in meeting them across sectors in a risk appropriate timeframe. What are the key items and differences in oversight within a public company, private company, NPO and in government? How have you seen boards undertake these responsibilities to meet them in a balanced way? In our moderated panel session, we will hear from a experienced Corporate Secretary along with two seasoned directors who will share their experiences meeting the boards and audit committee’s responsibilities in an efficient and effective timeframe. The panelists will draw from their experiences across their portfolio of boards and organizations held during their careers.

Sheila Smigarowski, CPA, CA ; Louise Paradis ; Daryl Yeo

Tax Governance: Protecting Your Reputation
Speakers: Daniella Dimitrov, Audit Committee Member; Pier Fiorino, VP Taxation, TELUS; Al Walker, VP Taxation, Irving Oil

The proactive management of tax risk is a critical component of maintaining a successful organization, and audit committees are often the ones tasked with overseeing this complex area.

This session will provide audit committees with access to a fellow board member and several tax experts who will deliver a fundamental understanding of key tax risks – at the board level - including: reputational risk, cash flow risk, planning risk, compliance risk and reassessment risk.

Their insights and war-stories will help you build a stronger tax governance framework within your organization to help strategically mitigate these risks

Daniella Dimitrov ; Pier Fiorino ; Al Walker

Networking Break

Choose one of the following:

Leading Practices That Enhance Audit Quality
Speakers: Linda Hohol, Corporate Director of Canadian Western Bank, NAV Canada, and Chair of the Institute of Corporate Directors; Jeremy Justin, Chief Risk Officer and VP, Strategy with the Canadian Public Accountability Board; Richard Arthurs, Partner, National Leader, MNP LLP

This session will provide audit committee members with telling insights into some of the leading practices from around the world that help enhance audit quality.

Learn from the Canadian Public Accountability Board’s (CPAB) ongoing audit quality initiative as well as directly from an experienced audit committee member, and partner of an accounting/consulting firm who supports audit committee needs for internal audit and enterprise risk services.

This session will identify the audit committee’s role in enhancing audit quality while giving tips and sharing real examples of companies that successfully oversee their internal and external audit functions.

Linda Hohol ; Jeremy Justin, CPA, CA ; Richard Arthurs

Board Diversity: Are You an Agent of Change?
Moderator: Deborah Rosati, Founder & CEO, Women Get On Board Inc.

Panelists: Ekta Mendhi, Senior Director, Corporate Strategy, CIBC and Co-Chair of the Canadian Gender and Good Governance Alliance (CGGGA); Elaine Roper, Head, HR Practice, ODGERS BERNDTSON; Voyt Krzychylkiewicz; Co-founder & Principal at NorthShore Partners, President of the Young Directors Forum

Diverse boards enhance all facets of a company’s performance. Existing disclosure requirements regarding women on boards and pending requirements regarding disclosure of Aboriginal persons, visible minorities and persons with disabilities are intended to encourage greater diversity on boards. But as business leaders, it is our duty to all step up today and collectively be agents of change in advancing board diversity in Canada. This panel will provide valuable insights on how you can be an agent of change in making board diversity a strategic opportunity for your board-building, and how to make your board diversity mandate ‘best-in-class”.

Deborah Rosati, FCPA, FCA, ICD.D ; Elaine Roper ; Voyt Krzychylkiewicz ; Ekta Mendhi

Networking Lunch

The Audit Committee Chair Role - Beyond Regulatory Requirements
Moderators: Richard Fontaine, Professor, Department of Accounting Sciences, University of Quebec in Montreal

Panelists: Chris Clark, Audit Committee Chair, Loblaw Companies Limited and Air Canada; Michael Rousseau, Executive Vice-President and Chief Financial Officer, Air Canada

What qualities should the board look for in an effective Audit Committee Chair in today’s environment? The Chair is the Audit Committee leader, an intermediary between management, the auditors and the Audit Committee and sets the tone for the work undertaken by the Audit Committee and the auditors. But how does the Audit Committee Chair do this? What are the greatest challenges in the role? And how is the role evolving? This session will explore what is expected of the role from the perspective of a Chief Financial Officer and an Audit Committee Chair.

Richard Fontaine ; Chris Clark, FCPA, FCA ; Michael Rousseau

Session Change Break

Choose one of the following:

Advancing the Maturity of your Audit Committee
Moderator: Judy Munro, Senior Managing Director, Robert Half Executive Search

Panelists: Dale Varney, Partner and National NFP Practice Lead, Grant Thornton; Wendy Kei, Corporate Director, Ontario Power Generation Inc.

This session provides insight on the assessment and advancing the maturity of your audit committee and the questions that all audit committee should be asking for Profit and Not-for-Profit organizations.

Judith Munro ; Dale Varney ; Wendy Kei

Accounting Standards Update
Speaker: Linda Mezon, Chair, Accounting Standards Board
Linda Mezon, FCPA, FCA, CPA (MI), CGMA

Networking Break

Choose one of the following:

Shareholder activism
Moderator: Bill Orr, Counsel, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP

Panelists: Sarah Kavanagh, Director, Hudbay Minerals, Bausch Health Companies and WPT Industrial REIT, Director and Audit Committee Chair, AST and Sustainable Development Technology Canada; Dexter John, President & CEO of Gryphon Advisors Inc.

Shareholder activism is an integral part of our capital markets and some shareholders use an activist approach to exercise influence and generate returns for shareholders. What are the warning signs for potential activism? What can boards do to prepare in advance and addressing potential vulnerabilities? And if an activist approaches the board, what is the corporation’s strategy and communication plan for engagement with the activist and with the corporation’s long-term shareholders. What should the board consider when deciding whether or not to settle with an activist? This session will examine activism from a director’s perspective, leveraging the views and personal experiences of panelists and lessons learned from prior activist situations.

William K. Orr ; Breadcrumb/Menu label goes here... ; Dexter John

Leveraging Technology: Privacy, Security, Trust & Hidden Risks
Speakers: Simon Hodgett, Technology Partner at Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP; Olivier Gaston, Director, Cyber-security Operation, BDC

Cloud computing and software as a service (“SaaS”) technologies have become mainstream, and there is widespread acceptance that these hosted systems are an acceptable business risk.. These technologies offer lower costs, better features, broader access and greater scalability – often being offered on a pay-per-use basis. But the very attributes that give these services an advantage can be a drawback with respect to data protection and and maintaining control of data, including ensuring portability between service providers. Companies may also have no knowledge or control over valuable data generated through their use of the services.

What questions should you ask before entrusting your critical data to an outside supplier? Where do the risks lie? How do you protect the value of your data and intellectual property? How do you hold a supplier accountable if they control access to your data and ensure access and return of data at the end of the contract? What insurance solutions should you consider and are they adequate?-
Olivier Gaston ; Simon Hodgett

Getting on a Board: Building Profile, Networking Mapping and How to Get Asked
Evaluate your skills and experience to determine the value you bring to a board and how to compete for a spot in today’s competitive marketplace.
Deborah Rosati, FCPA, FCA, ICD.D ; Elaine Roper

Audit Committee Governance Fundamentals
Take a deeper dive into the roles and responsibilities of board directors and audit committee members, including the relationship between both groups and the importance of oversight.
Wendy Kei

Thank you to our advisory committee members
Ismail Akhter, Lead Principal, Member in Practice, Audit, Assurance and Report, Member Development and Support, CPA Canada

Richard Arthurs, Partner, Enterprise Risk Services MNP and Canada Board Chair, IIA

Michael Calyniuk, President, MEC Dynamics Inc

Richard Fontaine, Professor, Department of Accounting Sciences, University of Quebec in Montreal

Wendy Kei, Board Chair, Ontario Power Generation Inc. & Corporate Director

Mel Leiderman, Mel Leiderman Professional Corporation, Lipton LLP

Andrew MacDougall, Partner, OSLER

Stefan Mihailovich, Principal, Corporate Oversight & Governance, Research, Guidance and Support , CPA Canada

Judy Munro, Senior Managing Director, Robert Half Executive Search

Deborah Rosati, Founder & CEO, Women Get on Board Inc.

Sheila Smigarowski, Founder, Sheila Smigarowski Consulting and Coaching

Daryl Yeo, Corporate Director

Ismail Akhter, CPA, CA ; Richard Arthurs ; Michael Calyniuk ; Richard Fontaine ; Wendy Kei ; Mel Leiderman ; Andrew J. MacDougall ; Stefan Mihailovich ; Judith Munro ; Deborah Rosati, FCPA, FCA, ICD.D ; Sheila Smigarowski, CPA, CA ; Daryl Yeo

Venue[s] and Accommodation[s]


Metro Toronto Convention Centre - South Building
222 Bremner Boulevard, Toronto, ON M5V 3L9

The award-winning Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC) is Canada’s largest and one of North America’s leading convention centres. Its three-year, $29 million modernization project is complete. The project features a new design, functionality and upgraded finishes. The MTCC is known for its top-of-class service, first-class venue, in a world-class city. And yes, it’s the only facility that has hosted both a G20 and a G7 Summit. Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, plenty of dining, great hotels, shopping and fun things to do are all within easy walking distance. The MTCC certainly has it all.



Toronto - Delta Hotel
75 Lower Simcoe Street, Toronto, ON M5J 3A6

Hotel reservations are the responsibility of the participant. CPA Canada has arranged for special conference rates at the following hotel. Contact the hotel directly and identify yourself as a participant of CPA Canada’s 2018 Conference for Audit Committees to qualify for the special rate.

Delta Hotel Toronto:

  • $229/night
  • Rate available until November 14, 2019 or until room block is full
  • Reservation link

Rates are available three days prior and three days post-conference, subject to availability.


Please contact:

Member Development and Support
Tel: 1-800-268-3793

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