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What CPA Canada is doing to help immigrant accountants

Depending on their credentials and designations, the transition into Canadian accounting varies for immigrant accountants, and CPA Canada has a number of programs and agreements to facilitate that transition.

Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRA) and Reciprocal Membership Agreements (RMA) allow foreign-trained accountants who are members of certain international accounting bodies to quickly receive certification.

“Once they are admitted to membership, they will need to complete a Continuing Professional Development course in Canadian tax law and ethics, over a one- to two-year period, depending on what province they’re in,” says Doretta Thompson, director, International Credential Recognition Programs, at CPA Canada. “Public accounting licensure requires additional examinations.”

Today, legacy MRA and RMA remain in place, and

are being renegotiated for the unified profession. Most are expected to be completed by December 2017. For a list, go to

Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) allow members

of international accounting bodies to gain advanced placement into the CPA’s Professional Education Program. Currently, the two MOUs with accounting bodies in India and Pakistan have expired; renewal is expected by the end of 2016.

Internationally trained accountants who are members of bodies belonging to the International Federation of Accountants enter the CPA Professional Education Program at Core 1. The program can be completed over a two-year period while they are employed in relevant work. They will then write the Common Final Examination.

Other internationally trained accountants are individually assessed by provincial/regional bodies.

“The assessment process is based on national

standards that are implemented consistently across the country by provincial and regional bodies,” says Thompson. “They may enter the Professional Education Program directly, or be required to take some prerequisite courses.”

Internationally trained accountants should contact

the CPA provincial body in the province in which they live or plan to live for more information about fees and the necessary steps to take based on their credentials, designation and career goals. — Andrea Neblett

a morning coffee break.” It’s not as though professions are trying to keep out the new- comers, and in fact leaders chafe at the accusation. “I certainly take umbrage at that idea that [an old boys’ club] is actively keeping newcomers at a distance,” says Professional Engineers of Ontario registrar Gerard McDonald. “We’re certainly making a lot of efforts to be welcoming to foreign-trained engineers. I go to licensing ceremonies on a monthly and weekly basis and the number of foreign-trained engineers we are licensing is not insignificant. “But we are mandated by statute to uphold standards that

ensure the public safety and we will not compromise those standards.” Also, things are changing. And some of the biggest changes

have come over the past three years, a legacy of the recently ousted Conservative government. In 2012 and 2013 Stephen Harper’s government overhauled

the system in a radical makeover that enraged liberal colum- nists, social activists and opposition members. First order of duty? Wipe out the backlog of 200,000-plus immigration appli- cations. Next, re-engineer the point system. Make language pro- ficiency a much more important factor. Youth, too. Education credentials would be assessed before the application was processed. The immigration minister at the time, Jason Kenney, told the

press, “For too long, too many immigrants to Canada have expe- rienced underemployment and unemployment, and this has been detrimental to these newcomers and to the Canadian economy.” “They cancelled all those backlogs,” Schalm says. “We said, ‘If

you are invited to apply, we will process your application within six months.’ It was an incredibly gutsy move.” “People were saying, ‘What happened to our humanitarian

immigration system?’ I give [Harper] full credit for having the courage to do what he thought was best and it was generally constructive.” Schalm is responsible for one of three academic agencies

providing immigrant credential assessments. The day the new rules came into effect, all three agencies saw their websites crash. The quick response from online applicants from around the world was that massive. Also, in 2015, Citizenship and Immigration Canada launched

Express Entry, another upgrade. Through Express Entry, appli- cants who meet minimum criteria are accepted into the pool and ranked according to various factors, including language proficiency, education and work experience. The top candidates are then invited to apply and complete applications are pro- cessed in six months or less. The new system has its critics, who suggest it runs counter to traditional Canadian values of inclusion. “Many people think of Canada as one of the most welcom-

ing countries in the world. Sadly, that is no longer true,” wrote Naomi Alboim, adjunct professor and chair of the Policy Forum at the School of Policy Studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., and a former Ontario deputy minister. “Since 2008 it has become harder to get into Canada, to stay


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