Features | From Pivot Magazine

Canada is making its presence felt in international standards setting

Our country punches well above its weight in the global standard-setting ecosystem, says CPA Canada’s president and CEO

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Colleagues brainstorming in officeCanada’s standard setters have opted to play an active role on the global stage to ensure that the voices of Canadian stakeholders are heard (Getty Images/Compassionate Eye Foundation/Gary Burchell)

Bonjour à tous.
It is an exciting time in the world of standards setting around the globe, and Canada is making its presence felt. From our input on envisioned global sustainability standards to our gift to La Francophonie in translating all international standards, it is clear that Canada—a country of just 38 million people—is punching well above its weight. 

As former chair of the Public Sector Accounting Board, I must admit I feel a sense of pride when I witness how Canada’s standard-setting structure is respected internationally, giving our country an influential voice in the global ecosystem.

New sustainability standards
The IFRS Foundation recently announced it is continuing its work on the establishment of an international sustainability standards board. Last September, the foundation released a consultation paper on sustainability reporting and invited comment. Canada answered the call. All five of our country’s standard-setting bodies responded: the Accounting Standards Board, the Public Sector Accounting Board, the Auditing and Assurance Standards Board, the Accounting Standards Oversight Council and Auditing and Assurance Standards Oversight Council. CPA Canada undertook its own stakeholder outreach process to develop and submit a response letter as well.

The series of responses discussed the importance of leveraging the existing body of knowledge in the sustainability field and highlighted the need for urgency in developing new standards. Canada has long been known both for the quality of its standard setting and for its independent, objective and transparent structures responsible for the delivery of those standards. The profession’s ongoing contribution is providing expertise, resources and funding.

Portrait of Charles Antoine St-Jean, president and CEO of CPA CanadaCharles-Antoine St-Jean, president and CEO of CPA Canada (Photograph by Lindsey Gibeau, Westboro Studio)

In terms of sustainability, CPA Canada has been researching and writing on the issue for several years. We aim to proactively drive the conversation because investors and other stakeholders are looking for greater clarity on how matters like this are being managed. 

Former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney has spoken about the importance of the profession’s role in ensuring that accounting comparability and consistency extends across international boundaries. Not surprisingly, Carney, who oversees Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing for Brookfield Asset Management and serves as the UN’s special envoy for climate action and finance, has voiced his support for the creation of an international sustainability standards board. 

A gift for La Francophonie 
A little-known fact about CPA Canada’s contribution to standard setting is a gift that goes beyond our borders. Since 2010, we have provided the French translation of international accounting and auditing standards to any country that requires them. In the dozens of countries around the world, many in Africa, that make up La Francophonie, this work has no doubt made an impact and touched the lives of millions of people.

It is a testament to Canada’s linguistic duality that we provide this service, free of charge, to our French-speaking friends around the world. These translations make their way from a CPA in Quebec to a Parisian chartered accountant in France to a chartered accountant in Senegal. This contribution aligns with one of CPA Canada’s core values: having an international outlook, particularly in the global world of standard setting.

We also look forward to translating the international sustainability standards that emerge.

Deepening our commitment to La Francophonie, CPA Canada also recently updated its English-French accounting dictionary, Dictionnaire de la comptabilité et de la gestion financière. This dynamic reference tool can be used on any device and is the most comprehensive dictionary of its kind—integrating the latest terminology from IFRS/IAS, ASPE, CAS, and OCS.

Canada’s standard setters have opted to play an active role on the global stage to ensure that the voices of Canadian stakeholders are heard. Our French translations and our ongoing interest around global standards, including sustainability standards, ensure that Canada’s voice will remain one of influence on the international scene. The Canadian accounting profession will continue to support this country’s standard setters and that will ensure Canada’s knowledge and expertise is heard and shared internationally.

And for this I must say, bravo!


Browse CPA Canada’s wealth of resources related to Canadian auditing standards. Also, learn more about sustainability, including what ESG is critical to your business resilience, how climate change is affecting your organization, and more.