In recent months, a number of legal cases have challenged some of the core principles of the Canadian accounting profession.
In keeping with its mandate, CPA Canada has been involved in these cases with a view to minimizing uncertainty and ensuring that established accounting and assurance practices and principles — including a commitment to serve the public interest — are accurately represented and fully considered.
Where CPA Canada opts to become involved, it does so in the spirit of contributing to constructive and respectful public discourse about policy development, legal precedent, standards and enforcement. This is consistent with the actions of other professional entities, including the Canadian Medical Association and the Federation of Law Societies of Canada.
There are two specific areas where CPA Canada has recently taken a public position. It has done so to preserve its alignment with the international accounting and assurance standards and the code of professional conduct that underpin Canada’s domestic economy, trade and capital markets.
The areas in question are the right to preserve confidentiality on behalf of all clients and the scope of legal liability for auditors.
CPA Canada upholds the highest standards of transparency and accountability. The Code of Professional Conduct governing Canada's Chartered Professional Accountants extends confidentiality to clients based on long-held practice. Until there is a definitive legal requirement to amend that practice, we will stand by it.
With respect to the confidential client information entrusted to chartered professional accountants, a number of high-profile cases have recently demonstrated that the push to allow governments greater access to information is a contentious and complex matter. Privacy issues transcend the purview of the CPA Code of Professional Conduct and must be cast in that broader context.
Regarding the current scope of legal liability for auditors, CPA Canada maintains that if “duty of care” is expanded beyond the corporation to a broader range of stakeholders, the impact of expanded auditor liability will directly affect Canadian businesses. For instance, the higher cost of insurance will increase the cost of audits and businesses will have fewer audit firms from which to choose.
CPA Canada is a professional organization that serves as the steward for accounting and assurance practices and standards, which are developed in Canada and internationally, by independent standard-setting boards. It has expertise and scope, as well as a proven track record of proactively working to ensure those standards are adopted across Canada. Through consultation, those standards are refined to keep pace with the constant change driven by globalization and advanced technology, providing the stability and certainty that is essential to the success of all businesses.