Standards digest – November 2016

PSAB is set to issue the first document for comment on its employment benefits project. Plus, PSAB Chair Rod Monette summarizes the board’s post-implementation review of its standard on government transfers.

HOT TOPIC

Employment Benefits

The Public Sector Accounting Board (PSAB) is expected to issue the first document for comment on its employment benefits project this fall. This document for comment will address the deferral provisions in PSAB’s standards on employment benefits, including:

• Section PS 3250, Retirement Benefits; and

• Section PS 3255, Post-Employment Benefits, Compensated Absences and Termination Benefits.

PSAB intends to engage stakeholders early in the standard development process so it can consider their input in developing preliminary views on various issues.

The deferral provisions and discount rate guidance in the standards are the major areas of differences between PSAB’s standards and equivalent standards issued by other accounting standard-setters. These two issues will be addressed in Phase 1 of this project.

Key issues that will be addressed in Phase 2 include:

• the accounting for plans with risk-sharing features that are different from the traditional defined benefit and defined contribution plans;

• multi-employer defined benefit plans; and

• other improvements to existing guidance.

Register for a webinar on January 30, 2017, in English or January 31, 2017, in French that will provide an overview of the discussion paper on the deferral provisions. Get more information on this project at www.frascanada.ca/employmentbenefits.

Q&A

Government Transfers Post-Implementation Review

The Public Sector Accounting Board (PSAB) is staying the course following its recent post-implementation review of Section PS 3410, Government Transfers. PSAB concluded it is a principles-based standard that, on balance, meets public interest objectives.

Q: How did the board reach this conclusion?

A: Rod Monette, PSAB Chair: Our post-implementation review revealed diversity in practice and audit opinions.

We heard from different stakeholders across the country, many of whom had polarizing views on certain parts of this standard.

These issues are not unique to Canada. Other public sector standard-setters also struggle with the treatment of government transfers. They face the same trade-offs as we did when we developed Section PS 3410. Flexibility within the standard may diminish comparability but may facilitate decision-useful information across the public sector.

Stakeholders remain passionate about their different positions on the matter. Many preparers have come to agreements with their auditors and moved on from these issues. PSAB always strives to balance various public interest considerations. Ultimately, we were not convinced that a new project, task force and use of staff resources would result in a markedly different standard than the one currently in place.

While this topic is off our agenda for now, it does not rule out the possibility of government transfers being revisited at a future date.

Read more about our post-implementation review at www.frascanada.ca/governmenttransfers.

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