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Professional Competence

Professional Standards, Competence and Capacity Committee

Professional bodies can apply either punitive or remedial measures to addressing a member’s professional shortcomings. CGA Ontario’s regulatory framework provides for specific measures designed to provide a remedial alternative when considering a complaint.

A competence process is designed to be inherently remedial in nature. In the simplest of terms, the objective of regulatory competence processes is to focus on the underlying reasons that a professional person has failed to meet his or her professional standards, and to engage the person in a course of action(s) that will enhance his or her professional standards. For this reason, competence processes are an effective alternative to a punitive-based discipline process.

One may question whether or not a competence approach is a satisfactory alternative when dealing with a complaint made by a client about a member. Does a competence approach satisfy a complainant’s desire that is framed as “I want to see justice?” The imposition of a competence approach may or may not satisfy an individual complainant’s objective; however, what is important is that the professional organization’s response must be congruent with its obligation to protect the public interest, as well as to enhance the professional skills and knowledge of its members. A remedial response can meet that test in certain instances.

Although disciplinary sanctions may or may not be the desired response in all instances, the discipline process continues to play an integral role in a professional organization’s regulation of its members. It can also be argued that the majority of the public intellectually agree that competence measures that make a person a better trained and more informed professional are acceptable alternatives to the discipline route in appropriate circumstances.

The Association’s professional standards, competence and capacity committee deals with issues of competence in the first instance. The committee will review information that comes to its attention that alleges that a member has failed to meet standards of professional competence pursuant to deficiencies in:

  • the member’s knowledge, skill or judgment; or
  • his or her attention to the interests of clients, the records, systems or procedures of his or her practice, and the deficiencies give rise to a reasonable apprehension that the quality of the service to clients or an employer may be adversely affected.

If the committee believes that these deficiencies are of a nature that require formal consideration by an adjudicative body, the matter will be referred to a CGA Ontario competence tribunal for a hearing.

The Certified General Accountants Act, 2010 and the Association’s Bylaws outline the mandate of CGA Ontario’s professional standards, competence and capacity committee (which reviews complaints dealing with competence and incapacity), the competence tribunal, the capacity tribunal, and articulates measures pertaining to the practice inspection program. The competence tribunal comprises two members of the Association, plus one non-member director or one public representative. Where the matter pertains to a licensee, the tribuanl panel shall include at least one licensee. The tribunal may impose sanctions that include:

  • educational courses
  • new records, systems or procedures
  • professional advice with respect to practice management
  • restrict the member to specified areas of practice; and/or
  • practice under supervision.

The effectiveness of the competence provisions are enhanced by providing linkage to the discipline processes for those instances where a member fails to comply with the decision of the tribunal.

The competence provisions assures members and the public that the Association’s interest are in harmony with its mission statement of ensuring its members merit the confidence and trust of all who rely upon their professional knowledge, skills, judgment and integrity, by regulating qualification, performance and discipline standards.

A capacity tribunal is established to hear matters referred to it relating to issues of capacity following the procedure of the Statutory Powers Procedure Act.  Members of the capacity tribunal shall be appointed by the chair of the board and shall include at least one licensee and one public appointee or public representative.  A capacity tribunal panel of three comprised of two members of the Association and one publc appointee or public representative shall hear unresolved complaints and proposed resolutions regarding complaints. Where the matter pertains to a licensee, the capacity tribunal panel shall include at least one licensee. 

Article 7 of the Association's Bylaws deals with professional competence and capacity.