VICTORIA – A panel has ruled in favour of four western Canadian provinces in a trade dispute against unnecessary barriers to Certified General Accountants.

In November 2010, Manitoba initiated dispute resolution proceedings against Ontario under the national Agreement on Internal Trade. Manitoba objected to measures maintained by Ontario that subjected Certified General Accountants certified by other provinces to practise public accounting to undergo an additional assessment in order to become certified in Ontario.

British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Alberta also objected to Ontario’s measures as unnecessarily restricting labour mobility, and intervened as parties with a substantial interest in the dispute.

In November 2011, a dispute resolution panel convened in Toronto to consider the matter.

The dispute resolution panel has now issued its report, which finds in favour of the four western provinces. The panel found that Ontario’s measures were inconsistent with the Agreement on Internal Trade, and recommended Ontario change its measures to bring itself into compliance by April 15, 2012.

The recently revised Agreement on Internal Trade now includes financial penalties for provinces that fail to comply with panel rulings, in order to ensure dispute panel rulings are implemented. Under the agreement, an appeal process is available to Ontario.

Pat Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation said, “For ten years, B.C. has led Canada in red-tape reduction and this development will remove needless restrictions on our CGAs. This finding is a great example of how our commitment to removing barriers to trade can create greater business opportunities for British Columbians, building on the progress of the BC Jobs Plan.”