Charles-Antoine St-Jean led CPA Canada through a period of unparalleled economic and societal uncertainty (Photograph by Lindsey Gibeau, Westboro Studio)
Bonjour à tous!
At the end of our fiscal year on March 31, I will be stepping down after almost two years as President and CEO of CPA Canada. As I reflect on this time, I am proud of the many accomplishments our organization and the Canadian CPA profession have achieved in the face of immediate and significant challenges stemming from COVID-19.
During this period of unparalleled economic and societal uncertainty, CPA Canada stepped up to offer unwavering support to CPAs and other stakeholders. We helped Canadian CPAs, businesses and the public assess the economic repercussions of COVID-19 and, in doing so, became a valuable go-to resource for pandemic-related guidance, in particular, timely information and clarity on pressing tax questions. And, through it all, we delivered trusted resources, innovative thought leadership papers and award-winning publications, as well as national exams, informative conferences, and webinars.
With the unified Canadian accounting profession about to enter its second decade, it is essential that it guard against becoming too self-centred and recognize the value in maintaining ongoing relationships with other organizations for a common good.
Today, the challenges facing our profession are increasingly complex and global in nature. Our organization works closely with likeminded networks, such as the Global Accounting Alliance (GAA) and the International Federation of Accountants among others, to create tangible value that brings local and global economic and social benefit.
To this end, I am particularly proud of CPA Canada’s work in conjunction with others to advance sustainability practices.
CPA Canada is one of 13 accounting bodies internationally publicly committing to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions within their own organizations, as well as providing an enabling environment for professional accountants to do the same. The pledge comes from members of The Prince of Wales’s Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S) Accounting Bodies Network. Our support for the protection and restoration of nature comes through the GAA signing a global Call to Action ‘Nature is Everyone’s Business’.
And, of course, a collaborative approach spearheaded by CPA Canada contributed greatly to a key centre for the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) being established in Montreal. The inception of the ISSB by the IFRS Foundation represents a sea change in the standards-setting community and cements Canada as an integral player in fostering a common and consistent sustainability reporting ecosystem.
With a long history of championing good, ethical and responsible business, the CPA profession is well-suited to leverage innovative thinking and critical skills to help root Canada’s recovery in sound, sustainable and responsible economic and social development.
This is only the start of a meaningful journey for our country and the profession. We are committed to being part of the solution in the fight against money laundering and other destructive financial crimes by working with governments and various bodies to combat these illegal activities.
As Canada continues its transition to a new post-pandemic reality, we must work collectively to foster an inclusive recovery. The CPA profession plays an active role by helping Canadians gain access to the information required to improve their financial security. Financial literacy is essential not only for the well-being of individuals, but also for the economy.
Change today is rapid and relentless. We face a challenging global landscape where health concerns, climate change, business, innovation, culture, politics, and emerging technologies consistently intersect. The profession’s new evergreen Competency Map will be a key contributor to ensure it remains agile and fit for the future, but more will be required.
PROFESSION WELL-POSITIONED FOR SUCCESS
I am grateful in having been given the opportunity to contribute to the advancement of the “mythical yardstick” during my time with the organization. However, there is a time for everything in life. The baton must be passed on.
So as professions worldwide, not just accounting, struggle to maintain relevance in the face of disruption, now is the time for the current and future generation of Canadian CPA leaders to take centre-stage. They must be bold and shape the future, one that involves a stronger profession effectively positioned to address the economic and ESG challenges and opportunities of tomorrow.
My roles at CPA Canada over the last five years, first as Chair of Public Sector Accounting Board, which CPA Canada is proud to financially support, and more recently as CEO of CPA Canada, have strengthened my appreciation for the work done by volunteers, members, employees and the Board of Directors of CPA Canada in support of the public interest. Thank you for the privilege of being one of you.
I also want to thank the provincial, territorial and Bermudian bodies for their ongoing commitment to the profession. Lastly, I want to share a heartfelt thank you to my profession for the wonderful experiences it has provided me over the years. The profession has been my lucky charm!
I am proud of what CPA Canada has accomplished and remain optimistic about both its future and that of the profession.
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How CPAs exemplify the Canadian Ideal of Good Business, reflections from the taxpayers’ ombudsperson on a year unlike any other and why CPA Canada advocates for a better tax system.