CPA Canada cuts 20 percent of its workforce before splitting with Ontario and Quebec

The Public Professional Accountants of Canada are cutting 20 per cent of their workforce before provincial oversight bodies in Ontario and Quebec take steps to separate from the national organization.

The organization, which represents chartered professional accountants across Canada, had about 400 employees nationwide before the cuts.

CPA Ontario and Quebec CPA Order announced in June last year that they were abandoning their agreement with CPA Canada, triggering an 18-month countdown to a split.

CPA Canada president and CEO Pamela Steer said the pending withdrawal from Ontario and Quebec prompted a review, resulting in the decision to streamline the organization “to position CPA Canada for long-term sustainability.”

In a memo to staff last week obtained by The Canadian Press, Steer said that despite many ongoing discussions and efforts, it has become clear that Ontario and Quebec will not change their current course, meaning they will leave CPA Canada effective from December.

“The impending retirements of CPA Ontario and CPA Quebec leave us in a challenging operating environment,” Steer wrote in the memo.

“After serious reflection on future needs, it became clear that organizational changes are needed to ensure the long-term success of a CPA Canada that best serves members and the profession.”

Before the two organizations announced their departure, CPA Canada had been undergoing a governance review for the past five years. But the Order of the CPA of Quebec and the CPA of Ontario had deadlocked on certain key governance issues with the national organization.

“Our differences are not trivial issues. They are fundamental differences on fundamental issues,” said Carol Wilding, president and CEO of CPA Ontario, in an interview last fall.

Both organizations cited concerns about CPA Canada’s financial transparency regarding educational programs, which the national body has questioned. Meanwhile, CPA Canada has said the two provincial groups were seeking stronger representation on the national board.

CPA Canada was created in 2013 to unify the various professional accounting organizations and designations. The national organization is responsible for standards and coordinates education and testing, while regional organizations are responsible for regulation and compliance.

Both the Ontario and Quebec organizations previously said their departure will not undo the unification of the accounting profession, but CPA Canada has said its decision puts the profession at risk.

Neither provincial organization has seen job cuts as a result of their decisions to separate from CPA Canada, spokespeople confirmed Monday.

Both organizations said they are committed to working with CPA Canada and their provincial colleagues on issues such as education and standards-setting, and ensuring those areas receive financial support.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 12, 2024.

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