Accounting Standards Oversight Council
Report on Public Meeting
February 23-24, 2017

Accounting Standards Oversight Council discusses the activities of the AcSB, PSAB and related matters.

At its meeting in Toronto on February 23-24, 2017, the Accounting Standards Oversight Council (AcSOC) received presentations on, and discussed, the following:

Accounting Standards Board Activities
The AcSB’s IFRS Discussion Group
The AcSB’s Due Process
Public Sector Accounting Board Activities
PSAB’s Employment Benefits Project
Triennial Review of the Terms of Reference and Statements of Operating Procedures of AcSOC, the AcSB and PSAB
Communications Activities (Branding Updates for the Standard-setting Boards and Councils)
CPA Canada’s Electronic Meeting Facilities

Accounting Standards Board Activities

Recent Activities

Linda Mezon, Accounting Standards Board (AcSB) Chair, stated that she is very pleased that Canadian Professor Tom Scott will become a member of the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) for an initial five-year term commencing on April 1, 2017. She also acknowledged a number of AcSB staff members who were observing the proceedings.

She commented on the AcSB’s recent activities, including the following matters:

Managing risks

Ms. Mezon reminded the Council that the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions has required domestically significant banks to early adopt the new financial instrument standard, IFRS 9 Financial Instruments, by one year on November 1, 2017. This means that Canada will be adopting IFRS 9 ahead of financial institutions based in other jurisdictions. Given the IASB’s current timeline in finalizing a proposed amendment to IFRS 9, the AcSB is concerned that it might not have sufficient time to complete its endorsement process and include the amendment to the revised new standard in the CPA Canada Handbook by November 1, 2017 for the large Canadian banks to adopt it. Therefore, the risk attached to this project has increased.

The risk attached to the rate-regulated activities project has moderated owing to additional work being done by the IASB staff, the efforts of other national standard setters, and the IASB’s encouraging reaction to the AcSB staff’s research on the decision-usefulness of financial information that reflects the economics of rate-regulated activities. The risk attached to this project remains as the IASB might issue an exposure draft without first issuing a discussion paper. An unfavourable response to such an exposure draft might result in the project being shelved.

Implementing the AcSB’s 2016-2021 Strategic Plan

In November 2016, the AcSB and staff held a retreat to generate new ideas and innovative suggestions to assist the AcSB in its work. The following key themes emerged:

  • The importance of communications with stakeholders and the necessity to improve the AcSB’s outreach.
  • The time taken to produce and issue standards. This is a global issue and it concerns balancing the need for timeliness with quality.
  • Standards should enable entities to tell their story. Stakeholders are increasingly questioning the relevance of audited financial statements and related performance measures.

The AcSB will consider these themes and act appropriately.

Research activities

It is essential that the AcSB has appropriate data to enable it to make evidence-based decisions. The AcSB is developing a plan, the short- and long-term objectives of which include:

  • building a research function;
  • enhancing communications with stakeholders; and
  • engaging academe.

Members’ comments included the following:

  • Research activities should include a mix of gathering data essential to producing quality standards and research conducted by academics.
  • It is very important for standard setters to be adequately informed prior to starting the standard-setting process.
  • It could be useful to ask academics to summarize/synthesize the implications of their research for the AcSB’s standard-setting activities.

Framework updates

Part I of the CPA Canada Handbook – Accounting

Over the next few years, preparers and auditors will be implementing the significant new accounting standards for revenue recognition, financial instruments, leases and insurance contracts. Users will need to understand the financial effect of those new standards.

In particular, the IASB has announced that it plans to issue its new insurance contracts standard in May 2017. While prudential regulators in Europe are in favour of the new standard, there is concern that the European endorsement process might delay its adoption. To assist preparers, the IASB has decided to form an implementation group and the AcSB will also form a domestic working group.

Members’ comments included the following:

  • The AcSB’s efforts have made a significant contribution to the quality of the upcoming insurance contracts standard.
  • Commenting on the U.S. Financial Accounting Standards Board’s (FASB) project on insurance contracts, a member noted that the biggest difference compared with the IASB’s upcoming standard is the guidance on the use of discount rates, with the IASB allowing more use of judgment. Ms. Mezon noted that Canadian insurers are well aware of the U.S. guidance and to date have not expressed major concerns.
  • The IASB’s standard is a huge step forward and most jurisdictions will see improved financial reporting. Time will tell whether the FASB or IASB standard produces the best reporting from a user perspective. The member congratulated the AcSB for its efforts on behalf of the Canadian insurance industry.

In reply to a member’s question as to whether the complexity of the IASB’s insurance contracts standard could result in differing interpretations, Ms. Mezon said that timing of implementation is a crucial element in determining whether the standard will be interpreted differently across jurisdictions. She expressed the hope that Canada will not be a first adopter; however, it is too early to venture an opinion.

A member stated that Canada being an adopter of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRSs) before anyone else could be viewed as an advantage or disadvantage. Canada’s goal should be to work with the IASB to arrive at a common effective date for IFRSs. Issues might still arise in Canada, even if all jurisdictions were to have the same implementation date.

The AcSB staff’s research paper on rate-regulated activities has been very favourably received and the IASB is currently exploring a proposed new model for these activities. The AcSB is expanding the paper to include more global data and will issue the revised paper in conjunction with the expected issue of the IASB’s discussion paper, possibly in June 2017 or in the fall of 2017. The IASB has offered staff support to assist with completing this additional work.

In reply to questions, Ms. Mezon commented as follows:

  • Developments regarding Britain’s exit from the European Union are unfolding. For example, the U.K. Financial Reporting Council has expressed interest in the AcSB’s process for endorsing IFRSs.
  • Japan and Germany are experiencing negative interest rates and may ask the IASB to provide guidance.

Part II of the CPA Canada Handbook – Accounting

Following field testing for its redeemable preferred shares project, the AcSB has decided that the basis for the classification exception should be the retention of control of an enterprise and that it may be necessary to add additional guidance on how to assess the issue of control. In addition, the AcSB decided that other conditions are necessary in order to qualify for the classification exception. The AcSB plans to issue a revised exposure draft in September 2017.

A member was concerned that an inordinate amount of time has been spent on the redeemable preferred shares project, which is a very narrow issue, and, in hindsight the cost probably exceeds the eventual benefit. It is sometimes necessary that standard-setting boards should act pragmatically. In response, Ms. Mezon said that initially the AcSB did not have enough data on, and did not have sufficient resources to devote to, this project. Both these matters have now been addressed.

To assist in the development of an exposure draft for its agriculture project, the AcSB is forming a new Agriculture Advisory Group in order to consult preparers, practitioners and users active in the farming industry. The intention is to develop a high-quality standard that considers the industry’s needs and complements the full set of standards.

Ms. Mezon noted that the risk related to the agriculture project is the emergence of a mixed-measurement model that may be different from the model followed by both the IASB and FASB.

In reply to questions, Ms. Mezon said that because Canada, unlike Europe, has no filing requirements for private enterprises, it is difficult to obtain data on the mix of enterprises that use accounting standards for private enterprises.

Part III of the CPA Canada Handbook – Accounting

The AcSB will be considering the advice from its Not-for-Profit Advisory Committee on the controversial topic of revenue recognition (contributions) for not-for-profit organizations. While Canada is the only jurisdiction that applies two recognition methods, the Advisory Committee has noted how practice is to use both methods. and finds each method informative.

The Advisory Committee has also emphasized the need for guidance on how to account for combinations between not-for-profit organizations. Members noted that these transactions are more frequent today, a trend that is likely to continue in the future. Staff are gathering data on current approaches used and will seek further input from the Advisory Committee.

The AcSB’s compliance with due process

Ms. Mezon advised that there were no reportable departures from due process or “comply or explain” actions nor were there any unusual events in the application of due process during the October 2016 to January 2017 period.

2016-2017 Performance Report

Rick Neville, the Performance Review Committee Chair, said that the Committee reviewed the AcSB’s draft Performance Report in detail and provided its observations to the AcSB’s Chair and Director. Committee members agreed that the AcSB is having a successful year. 

Ms. Mezon said that the AcSB’s key successes in 2016-2017 included the following:

  • A high level of engagement with stakeholders through numerous roundtables, meetings webinars and presentations.
  • Strong global contributions through the IASB’s Accounting Standards Advisory Forum, International Forum of Standard Setters, participation in an international working group on non-for-profit organizations, working with other national standard setters to conduct research on new types of pension plans, and facilitating the appointment of Professor Tom Scott to the IASB. Regarding Professor Scott’s appointment, Ms. Mezon thanked the members of the AcSOC sub-committee for their work and support.
  • Substantial progress was made on projects to improve accounting standards for private enterprises and not-for-profit organizations.

Members congratulated the AcSB on its outreach and other activities during 2016-2017.

Mr. Neville stated that a final report will be prepared for the Committee’s review in May 2017. The report will be presented to AcSOC at its meeting on June 8-9, 2017 to enable the Council to assess the AcSB’s performance during the year ended March 31, 2017.

Mr. Neville thanked the Performance Review Committee members for their work, and the AcSB Chair and staff for their efforts, which enabled the Committee to carry out its governance responsibilities.

Draft 2017-2018 Annual Plan

Mr. Neville said that Performance Review Committee members discussed the AcSB’s 2017-2018 draft annual plan and provided their observations to the AcSB Chair and Director. Members were pleased with the format and succinct content of the document.

Ms. Mezon commented that the objectives in the 2017-2018 draft annual plan are framed to focus on outcomes, rather than activities. She noted that having objective and measurable data to measure outcomes is a challenge.

Committee members agreed that the draft annual plan appeared to provide a basis for the Committee to assess the AcSB’s performance for the year ended March 31, 2018.

Members’ comments included the following:

  • Members were in favour of the AcSB’s new focus on outcome-based objectives.
  • It is difficult to obtain information on the nature of key performance indicators.
  • At the outset of a project, the AcSB should think carefully about the necessary steps and data required to produce a final standard, so that duplicative work is eliminated.
  • In the light of the AcSB’s already very extensive communications activities, one member questioned the draft annual plan’s emphasis on increasing the communications effort. The member commented that possibly the emphasis should be on refining communications activities. Ms. Mezon noted that the AcSB plans to maintain a consistent level of communication activities in 2017-2018 and its goal is to engage stakeholders further in its processes and activities.

The AcSB’s IFRS Discussion Group

Ms. Mezon introduced AcSB member Gale Kelly, Chair of the AcSB’s IFRS Discussion Group.

Ms. Kelly provided an overview of the Group’s activities, stating that it was established in 2009 to assist with the identification of issues arising on the application of IFRSs in Canada. The Group discusses these application issues in a public forum to assist Canadian stakeholders with the implementation of the standards.

The Group is currently comprised of 17 members with diverse backgrounds and three official observers. To date, it has discussed approximately 190 application issues in 26 meetings. It has supported stakeholders implementing IFRS 9, IFRS 15 Revenue from Contracts with Customers, and IFRS 16 Leases.

The Group has also discussed issues influencing the development of IFRSs and other topics. Efforts are underway to increase the effectiveness of the Group, including its communications activities

Members commented that the Group is an important link in the standard-setting process and has an effect on improving the quality of standards. Members noted that the Group is an indirect way of transmitting stakeholders’ concerns to the AcSB. The Group’s Chair noted that very few issues are referred to the IASB for its consideration. The AcSB Chair commented that most issues are surfaced by audit firms, rather than preparers, and the objective is to raise awareness, and to enhance the application, of IFRSs in Canada.

The AcSOC Chair thanked Ms. Kelly for her report.

The AcSB’s Due Process

Rebecca Villmann, Director, Accounting Standards, updated members on:

  • how AcSB members satisfy themselves that due process has been performed; and
  • provided greater transparency on how the AcSB makes this judgment.

She said the AcSB follows a rigorous set of procedures in developing and adopting standards. These due process procedures are critical in maintaining the objectivity of the standard-setting process and the quality of the AcSB’s output. The procedures are documented in the AcSB Due Process Handbook.

The AcSB serves the public interest by setting high-quality accounting standards that provide decision-useful information. In developing these standards, the AcSB:

  • addresses the need for transparency in the standard-setting process;
  • conducts consultations proportionate to the relevant topic; and
  • is responsive to input received and accountable to all stakeholders through research, discussion and consultation.

Ms. Villmann indicated that there are a number of shortcomings, as follows:

  • Stakeholders have limited visibility on the extent of the due process activities undertaken by the AcSB.
  • Information is delayed for (i) IFRSs until the annual AcSB due process activities for changes to Part I of the Handbook is issued in the first quarter of the year, and (ii) accounting standards for private enterprises and not-for-profit organizations, until the background information and basis for conclusions is issued.

The AcSB is required to report at each Council meeting on its compliance with due process. This report is based on a review of the due process documents for each project and the AcSB’s activities, and includes details of:

  • any reportable departures from due process;
  • “comply or explain” actions;
  • any unusual events occurring in the application of due process; and
  • on-going compliance activities (i.e., whether there were any dissenting votes on ballot decisions and items approved in AcSB meetings).

Members’ comments included the following:

  • The Auditing and Assurance Standards Oversight Council employs a more active due diligence process than AcSOC’s process. It reports on the process regarding each Auditing and Assurance Board standard.
  • The Council’s process is the right model for the oversight of the AcSB and the Public Sector Accounting Board (PSAB). The process is not too time consuming for the Boards and they provide the Council with good reports (including reasons) when deviations from the required due process occur.
  • A powerful reinforcement to the AcSB’s and PSAB’s due process is that the Council encourages stakeholders to appear before it. Transparency could be improved if meetings of the Boards were open to public observation. Ms. Mezon noted that the AcSB considered and sought stakeholders’ input on the question of meeting in public when developing its 2016-2021 Strategic Plan. The AcSB decided to continue meeting in private owing to the volunteer nature of its membership and stakeholders’ support that the board be composed in the main of volunteer members.

Members stated their appreciation for Ms. Villmann’s presentation and expressed satisfaction with the existing process.

Public Sector Accounting Board Activities

Recent Activities

Rod Monette, PSAB Chair, acknowledged Charles-Antoine St-Jean, the incoming PSAB Chair, and a number of PSAB staff members who were observing the proceedings.

Mr. Monette’s comments on PSAB’s key decision areas, the discussion at AcSOC’s Performance Review Committee meeting on February 1, 2017, the Council’s support for PSAB and lessons learned during his five-year tenure as PSAB Chair, included the following:

  • The reporting model – PSAB held in-depth discussions on identifying a location in the financial statements to present revenues and expenses that would not be immediately recognized in periodic surplus or deficit. The two alternatives for location are in the statement of financial position or in the statement of operations, below surplus or deficit. PSAB decided that these revenues and expenses should be included directly as a component of net assets. This approach is similar in concept as to how the International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board presents these items.
  • 2017-2020 Draft Strategic Plan – The Draft Strategic Plan was exposed for a five-month period from May to October 2016. Responses were received from a broad range of stakeholders, including local governments, not-for-profit organizations and First Nations, and showed good support for PSAB and with its proposed strategies.
  • Asset retirement obligations and revenue projects – PSAB has approved exposure drafts for both of these projects. It expects that the asset retirement exposure draft will be issued in March 2017. The revenue exposure draft is expected to be issued in May 2017.
  • AcSOC’s Performance Review Committee – This Committee met on February 1, 2017 to review PSAB’s performance during the current operating period and provided very helpful input to PSAB, including the timing related to the completion of standards projects. Staff is reviewing the steps in PSAB’s due process activities to ascertain possible efficiency improvements. The Committee and the main Council were also very helpful in PSAB obtaining an increase in its staff resources so that it could prepare a more realistic work plan.
  • Reflections over the last five years – The PSAB Chair should listen to stakeholders, be respectful, show intellectual leadership and always act in the public interest. An example of this is the consideration of stakeholders’ concerns on the not-for profit project, which resulted in a major change in PSAB’s approach to this project.
  • Lessons learned – (i) It is important that PSAB have technically-informed discussions versus purely technical discussions, (ii) PSAB has a duty of care, (iii) the system only works because of PSAB’s volunteers and (iv) it should always be borne in mind that humans are fallible.

Members complimented Mr. Monette for his leadership and his efforts to connect with stakeholders during his tenure as PSAB Chair. Congratulations were also extended to Michael Puskaric, Director, Public Sector Accounting, and the staff.

In reply to a question, Mr. Puskaric commented that he had made a presentation at the 2017 Aboriginal Finance Officers Association. The objective of the presentation was to provide insights into upcoming public sector accounting standards and develop relationships and further understanding between PSAB and the indigenous financial community.

Mr. Monette commented that financial professionals who have been consulted within the aboriginal community are of the view that the PSAB framework is appropriate for their needs. At this point, that community is engaging with PSAB. He noted that a member of the aboriginal community is a member of the Public Sector Accounting Discussion Group and that this individual made a very strong contribution to the discussions at the Group’s last meeting.

2016-2017 Performance Report

Mr. Neville said that the Performance Review Committee reviewed PSAB’s draft Performance Report in detail and provided their observations to the PSAB’s Chair and Director. Committee members agreed that the interim report reflects PSAB’s performance to date and that PSAB is having a successful year. 

The PSAB Chair commented that:

  • the staff is at full complement;
  • standard setting is a volunteer-based system and stakeholders have displayed great interest in sitting on the Board, Public Sector Accounting Discussion Group and PSAB’s Task Forces;
  • stakeholder engagement, consultation and outreach have been very successful;
  • there is a good balance between consultation/liaison and standard setting; and
  • significant progress has been made in standard setting and meeting PSAB’s public interest objectives.

Members congratulated the PSAB Chair, Director and staff on the quality of the reports submitted to the Council

Mr. Neville stated that a final report will be prepared for the Performance Review Committee’s review in May 2017. The report will be presented to AcSOC at its meeting on June 8-9, 2017 to enable the Council to assess PSAB’s performance during the year ended March 31, 2017.

Mr. Neville thanked the Committee for its work, and the PSAB Chair and staff for their efforts, which enabled the Committee to carry out its governance responsibilities.

Draft 2017-2018 Work Plan

Mr. Neville said that the Performance Review Committee discussed PSAB’s 2017-2018 draft annual plan and provided its observations to the PSAB Chair and Director.

Mr. Monette commented that the Performance Review Committee focused its efforts on ensuring that the Work Plan’s deliverables were realistic. Mr. Puskaric commented on PSAB’s most significant projects. He said that PSAB’s strategy for not-for-profit organizations would include performing additional work to understand users’ needs. He also said that PSAB would consider its options regarding its approach to International Public Sector Accounting Standards.

Replying to a question on PSAB’s strategy for not-for-profit organizations, Mr. Monette noted the following important considerations:

  • PSAB will undertake a cross-country effort to engage stakeholders (as was done for the financial instruments project).
  • PSAB’s original assumption was that its standards would cater primarily to senior governments. This assumption will be revisited to consider whether there should be application options for different categories of stakeholders.

Performance Review Committee members agreed that, subject to suggested amendments, the draft annual plan appeared to provide a basis for the Committee to assess PSAB’s performance for the year ended March 31, 2018.

2017-2020 Draft Strategic Plan

Mr. Puskaric commented that the strategic plan was issued for a five-month consultation period beginning in May 2016. A recurring theme was that PSAB should consult further with local governments and government not-for-profit entities before issuing standards. Regarding PSABS’s international strategy, he said that PSAB would conduct research and publish a consultation paper to seek stakeholders’ views before developing options for this strategy.

Mr. Neville said that the Performance Review Committee provided their observations to PSAB’s Chair and Director. The Committee concluded that, subject to suggested amendments, PSAB’s 2017-2020 Draft Strategic Plan sets out the right priorities for PSAB. Committee members also agreed with PSAB’s suggested approach of creating a marketing-oriented version of the strategic plan.

The Council discussed the draft strategic plan and suggested a number of minor amendments.

PSAB’s Employment Benefits Project

Kim MacPherson, Auditor General, Province of New Brunswick, provided her perspective on pension issues in New Brunswick and Robert Lefrançois, Chair of PSAB’s Employment Benefits Task Force, presented an update on PSAB’s employment benefits project.

New Brunswick pension perspective

Ms. MacPherson discussed the following matters:

  • the drivers of pension reform in New Brunswick;
  • shared risk pension plans in New Brunswick;
  • key accounting and audit decisions in 2014-2016; and
  • future uncertainty.

Pension reform in New Brunswick was driven by the existence of underfunded pension plans, volatility of rates of return on pension assets and employer contributions resulting in volatile pension expenses. The Province’s conversion to shared-risk pension plans included significant assumption changes, which resulted in some plans showing a funded position (without a huge cash injection).

Discussing New Brunswick’s key accounting and audit decisions in 2014-2016, Ms. MacPherson commented that the Auditor General qualified the Province’s 2015 financial statements owing to the Office of the Controller’s use of defined contribution accounting, rather than defined benefit accounting for its shared risk pension plans. She said that the Province had disregarded expert advice that defined contribution accounting was inappropriate for these plans. In 2016 the Office of the Controller agreed with the position of the Auditor General and this resulted in a restatement of the Province’s financial statements receiving a clean audit opinion.

Ms. MacPherson closed by stating that uncertainty remains and appropriate accounting treatment will continue to be an issue, in that:

  • accounting standards are evolving; and
  • the Auditor General’s conclusion on the appropriate accounting for shared risk plans in New Brunswick might change depending on the changes in public sector accounting standards.

Members participated in an extensive discussion with Ms. MacPherson. Topics related to the public’s and media’s reaction to the 2015 Auditor General’s audit qualification, the involvement of the unions, the Auditor General’s access to elected decision-making officials on the topic, the fiscal situation in New Brunswick, and the design of the new shared risk pension plans and their differing effects on the government and its employees.

Ms. MacPherson noted that the government’s actions are driven by what it perceives to be in the public interest. Defined benefit plans are becoming less prominent and pension reform is occurring in many provinces.

One member commented that some of New Brunswick’s plans are unique in Canada. They have targeted contribution levels that cannot be changed. There tends to be a bargaining process and employees are able to share and participate in surpluses. The member noted that the new non-traditional plans do not easily fit into PSAB’s existing pension standards. The solution is a two-profession problem – accounting standard setters and the actuarial profession.

PSAB’s Employment Benefits Project

Mr. Lefrançois said that this is a top-priority project for PSAB for a number of reasons, including the following:

  • The evolution of accounting, following the G20’s criticism in 2008 regarding the unrealistic accounting for pensions.
  • Criticism of the discount rates used in the public sector to calculate pension obligations.
  • The creation of shared risk/target benefit plans.

PSAB has adopted a two-phase approach:

  • Phase one will deal with deferral provisions (which smooth liabilities and expenses) and discount rates with potential amendments to the existing employee benefit standards.
  • Phase two will cover non-traditional and multi-employer defined benefit plans, other issues and improvements, resulting in a new employment benefits standard and the withdrawal of the existing standards.

PSAB is supported in its endeavours by a project task force and a project advisory group.

An Invitation to Comment has been issued in 2016 and another is planned to be issued in 2017. Statements of Principles are expected to be issued after 2017.

PSAB has undertaken and will continue to implement substantial communications initiatives.

Replying to a member’s question regarding PSAB’s approach to the project and related timing, the PSAB Chair said that this project is PSAB’s highest priority public interest issue. He commented that work needs to be undertaken to ascertain how PSAB’s standards compare with those in other jurisdictions. PSAB’s diverse membership will offer an array of perspectives to the project.

Members comments included the following:

  • If PSAB’s existing guidance does not reflect plans that have elements of both defined benefit accounting and defined contribution accounting, then phase two is definitely required.
  • Another member expressed concern with the project’s proposed timeline, suggesting that it might be possible to serve the public interest by working on elements of phase two in parallel with phase one.
  • Accounting for employee benefits is a complicated issue and the solution requires work to be done on both phases (FASB has spent a lot of time working on this issue).
  • PSAB should look closely at the media’s comments on employment benefit accounting and the disagreement between the New Brunswick Office of the Controller and the Provincial Auditor General, the public’s reaction thereto, and the effect, or lack thereof, of the accounting profession’s actions on the economy.

The Chair thanked both presenters for their presentations on an urgent and complex matter.

Triennial Review of the Terms of Reference and Statements of Operating Procedures of AcSOC, the AcSB and PSAB

Harry Klompas, AcSOC Secretary, stated that the terms of reference of the Council, the AcSB and PSAB require that their respective terms of reference and statements of operating procedures be reviewed at least once every three years. He commented that members had conducted a preliminary review of all the documents at its last meeting in October 2016. Members had suggested various minor amendments and asked that the documents be presented once again to the Council at its next meeting for approval or ratification, as appropriate.

After due consideration, and subject to minor amendments, the Council approved amended terms of reference and an amended statement of operating procedures for the Council, and approved or ratified (as appropriate), similar documents relating to the AcSB and PSAB.

At the request of the AcSB Chair, in order to bring additional perspectives to the AcSB’s deliberations, members agreed to increase the complement of members (excluding the Chair) on the AcSB from between nine and 11, to between nine and 12 for a limited period expiring on March 31, 2018. Members agreed not to amend the AcSB’s terms of reference for this limited exception.

Communications Activities (Branding Updates for the Standard-setting Boards and Councils)

Daniella Girgenti, Communications Manager, Standards, updated members on the branding activities for the Canadian financial reporting and assurance standard-setting boards and councils.

She commented on branding best practices and imminent plans to develop a seamless look across all board and council communications channels. The intention is to help stakeholders to recognize readily that the oversight councils, and the AcSB, PSAB and the Auditing and Assurance Standards Board, are part of the same family – Canada’s standard-setting bodies – the components of which are respected and trusted, both in Canada and globally. 

Members discussed and thanked Ms. Girgenti for the presentation.

CPA Canada’s Electronic Meeting Facilities

The Council now holds its Toronto meetings at the offices of CPA Canada. Stephenie Fox, CPA Canada Vice-President, Standards, stated that one of the reasons for selecting this location was the opportunity to make better use of technology in conducting the Council’s meetings. She provided members with an inventory of the available technology at the offices of CPA Canada and the ways it has been used for meetings.

The present technology includes video conferencing and electronic meeting software using the internet. PSAB intends to test live streaming for the November 2017 meeting of the Public Sector Accounting Discussion Group.

Members discussed the technology options and agreed that the use of electronic meeting software, such as Zoom, is superior to conducting meetings via conference calls. Members asked the staff to use the Zoom technology at the next non face-to-face meeting of an AcSOC sub-committee.

* * * * *

The Accounting Standards Oversight Council (AcSOC) is an independent, volunteer body established by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA)* in 2000. It serves the public interest by overseeing and providing input on the activities of the Accounting Standards Board (AcSB), which sets financial reporting standards for profit-oriented enterprises and not-for-profit organizations, and the Public Sector Accounting Board (PSAB), which sets financial reporting standards for governments and their organizations. AcSOC's responsibilities include appointing the AcSOC, AcSB and PSAB members. Reporting to the public and made up of representatives that include regulators, investors and other users, preparers and auditors of financial reports, AcSOC brings a broad perspective to complex issues facing standard setters in both the private and public sectors.

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* The CICA, CGA-Canada and CMA Canada have since consolidated under the CPA Canada banner as the profession’s national body.