Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Brief History of the Evolution of Accounting and Auditing Standards in Canada

Prior to 1951, the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) was known as the Dominion Association of Chartered Accountants (DACA). It established an Accounting and Auditing Research Committee in 1946, which began issuing a series of bulletins setting out recommended standards of practice on accounting and auditing.

In 1968, it replaced the series of bulletins with a loose-leaf, subject-indexed Handbook that was periodically updated with inserts as the CICA’s committee issued new recommendations. Although the bulletins set out what the committee “considers to be the best accepted practice or its suggested treatment of new elements in accounting statements arising as a result of changes in social or economic conditions,” the recommendations contained in the Handbook were intended to possess greater force. Section 1500.06 in the Handbook, issued in November 1969, stated that any departures from the Handbook recommendations “should be explained in notes to the financial statements with an indication of the reason why the recommendation concerned was not followed.”

In 1975, the Canada Business Corporations Act added a degree of quasi-legislative authority to the Handbook, when Regulations 44 and 45 of the Act proclaimed:

44) The financial statements referred to in paragraph 149(1) of the Act shall, except as otherwise provided by this Part, be prepared in accordance with the standards, as they exist from time to time, of the CICA set out in the Handbook.

45) The auditor’s report referred to in Section 163 of the Act shall, except as otherwise provided by this Part, be prepared in accordance with the standards of the CICA set out in the Handbook.

In 1963, the CICA began publishing research studies on contemporary accounting and auditing topics. Since 1980, it has published a number of research studies on accounting and financial reporting, on auditing and assurance, and on environmental and performance reporting. Most are available as PDF downloads free-of-charge.

In 1991, the CICA replaced the Accounting Standards Committee and the Auditing Standards Committee with the Accounting Standards Board (AcSB) and the Auditing Standards Board. Later in that decade, the CICA Task Force on Standard Setting released its final report in May 1998, and among its recommendations was the establishment of an “independent standard setting organization for Canada.”

In addition, the CICA established the Accounting Standards Oversight Council (AcSOC) to support the setting of accounting standards domestically and to contribute to the development of internationally accepted standards. AcSOC’s mandate also includes providing opportunities for the public to comment on all aspects of accounting standard setting, and reporting to the public annually.

In 2005, a firm commitment was made to adopt International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), effective January 1, 2011. IFRS have now been incorporated into the CICA Handbook, along with International Auditing Standards (IAS).