The CPA Order advocates for the protection of professional secrecy
To begin with, the Order welcomed the tabling of the bill and applauded the government’s commitment to give the Régie de l’assurance maladie greater powers primarily to detect fraud and abuses of the system. However, the Order noted that some of the provisions in the bill open the way, without any guidelines whatsoever, to serious loopholes in protecting professional secrecy, a principle entrenched in Quebec’s Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms.
Highlighting the fact that protecting professional secrecy has a quasi-constitutional status, the Order contends that any legislative measures that infringe on professional secrecy must first undergo a review that takes account of the fundamental rights and values at stake, and that such measures be applied for compelling reasons only, such as when there are no other means to ensure the well-being of citizens and when such infringement is minimal relative to the desired outcome.
Mindful of the imperatives of preventing fraud and recovering money funneled out of the public purse, the Order proposes a wide range of highly effective solutions that would enable the Régie to achieve its goals and have access to financial documents and information on the activities of stakeholders involved in the drug supply chain. These solutions include:
• Requiring the systematic implementation of preventive control processes within organizations overseen by the Régie, thereby making their most senior management accountable.
• The National Assembly could also require that external controls regarding certain specific aspects be performed by CPAs (at intervals to be determined later) in order to attest to compliance.
• Allowing CPA auditors to report on supplementary information and on instances of non-compliance with legislative or regulatory provisions, provide comments to third parties or make recommendations to the Régie, within the limits of the law.
• Introducing accountability mechanisms and related requirements in the commitment that drug manufacturers and wholesalers must sign under the regulation.
“The proposals put forth by the CPA Order are all aimed at ensuring better management of public funds, and are consistent with the objective of greater stakeholder accountability and better fraud prevention,” stated the Chair of the Order, Alain Dugal, FCPA, FCA.
Lastly, the Order shares the concerns of some organizations that appeared before the Committee regarding the lack of protection for whistleblowers afforded by Bill 92.
The Order reiterated that the question of whistleblowers is a societal issue and should be handled as such, not on a case-by-case basis as appears to be the trend at the moment, and proposes that the government adopt a legislative framework on whistleblower protection, much like the model recently proposed in France, which would apply to all spheres of activity.
About the Quebec CPA Order
The Ordre des comptables professionnels agréés du Québec has 38,000 members and 5,600 future CPAs, making it the third largest professional order in Quebec. The Order ensures the protection of the public and the visibility of the profession. It represents all areas of expertise of the accounting profession, including assurance, financial accounting, management and management accounting, finance and taxation.
Read the brief prepared by the Order [+]
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Quebec CPA Order
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