The discipline committee is a standing committee of the board of directors and owes its existence to the Cerified General Accountants Act, 2010. The Act creates the discipline committee, outlines its composition and establishes its mandate. The chair of the discipline committee must be a director appointed by the chair of the board of the Association and the discipline committeemust include one licensee and at least one non-member director who is appointed as a public representative.
The Association's bylaw provisions were created to fulfil the requirements of the Certified General Accountants Act, 2010. More particularly, they were established to satisfy section 4 (a) (v) of the Act, which states:
4. The objects of the Association are,
(a) to promote and protect the public interest by governing and regulating individuals and firms as Certified General Accountants in accordance with this Act and the by-laws, including,
(v) regulating the practice, competence and professional conduct of individuals and firms as Certified General Accountants.
The discipline committee is the committee responsible for carrying out these objectives.
The discipline committee and the Association’s discipline process is supported and administered by the professional regulations department.
Committee members are mainly responsible to provide a process of investigating and considering ethics complaints against current CGAs and students; to determine if they are in breach of the Association's Code of Ethical Principles and Rules of Professional Conduct (as well as the Certified General Accountants Act, 2010 and the Bylaws); to assess discipline alternatives where appropriate; to provide instructions to the committee’s legal counsel in relation to the conduct of discipline hearings before the professional conduct tribunal; and to determine whether a complaint is a matter of professional competence.
Committee members must be familiar with the discipline committee’s Professional Regulation Procedures Manual, the Certified General Accountants Act, 2010, the Code of Ethical Principles and Rules of Professional Conduct and the Bylaws. The discipline section of Article 9 of the Bylaws is especially important, and should be completely understood.
Ethics complaints usually involve a breach of the Code of Ethical Principles and Rules of Professional Conduct, but may at times involve a bylaw or the Certified General Accountants Act, 2010.
The discipline committee considers on average 30-40 complaints each year, including reports from CGAs and students about personal bankruptcies. Most complaints are from the public, other members and other professional accountants.
In addition, several internal complaints are considered each year, usually regarding failure to register in public practice, failure to obtain professional liability insurance and failure to comply with the practice inspection obligations.
Each complaint is received by the Association, initially referred to the professional regulations deparment and then ultimately forwarded to the discipline committee for its review. An investigator may be appointed to review the complaint and prepare a report addressed to the discipline committee. In appropriate circumstances, the discipline committee may appoint a discipline committee member to make certain inquiries in relation to the complaint and report his or her findings to the discipline committee.
Discipline committee members must maintain confidentiality and avoid conflict of interest regarding all matters that they become aware of during the course of their duties as members of the discipline committee.
There are generally five to seven regular discipline committeemeetings held each year. These are meetings of the entire discipline committee and generally involve a review of complaints, discussions about steps that can be taken to improve procedures and the preparation of action items to be referred to CGA Ontario’s board of directors for resolution.