Impact Report Reveals Critical Contribution of CPAs to New Brunswick’s Economy (updated March 2023)

Clear Case to Attract More CPAs to the Province Revealed

As part of its commitment to move the New Brunswick economy forward, the Chartered Professional Accountants of New Brunswick (CPA New Brunswick) has issued an Economic Impact Report on the considerable economic contributions made by CPAs. The report highlights that the total compensation paid to CPAs, combined with indirect and induced economic activity, boosted provincial GDP by an estimated $418 million in 2021. This represents nearly 1.4% of total provincial GDP, and a contribution similar to the total tourism industry in the province. Prepared by Jupia Consultants, this report makes the case that a focused effort should be made to ensure the CPA workforce and talent pipeline continues to thrive in New Brunswick.

Because of the education, training, and skills required to do the work, CPAs earn well above average employment income. This higher level of income translates into considerable tax revenue for governments: an estimated $77.5 million to provincial and local governments in 2021.

“To put this into perspective, just the provincial and local tax revenue induced by CPAs would cover the salaries of more than 1,000 teachers in New Brunswick, or over half the cost of all highway maintenance across the province every year,” says economist and author of the report, David Campbell. “There is a case to attract more CPAs to live and work in New Brunswick, as every $1 million in industry output boosts employment across the province by more than 12 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs, which has significant tax implications for government.”

“Labour productivity in the accounting services sector has been rising, and since 2011 it has been higher than the country overall. Between 2012 – 2020, the average annual operating profit margin was more than 27%,” adds Mylène Lapierre, President and CEO, CPA New Brunswick. “However, with the threat of CPA services being provided remotely by out-of-province suppliers, it is more important than ever to make certain New Brunswick has a strong talent pipeline and remains an attractive location for CPAs to live, to ensure this important economic engine continues into the future.”

This report is timely, as it highlights challenges for the future of the CPA workforce in New Brunswick, including:

  • As of the 2016 Census, 26% of accountants and financial auditors in New Brunswick were over the age of 55 and likely to retire in the relative near future (the highest share of the workforce over the age of 55 among the 10 provinces).
  • There has been a steady increase in the number of vacant jobs in the occupational group “financial auditors and accountants” across New Brunswick in recent years.
  • New Brunswick is attracting fewer immigrants with accounting backgrounds relative to population size (in 2021, the province attracted only 1.3% of Canada-wide permanent resident admissions with an accounting background).
“CPA New Brunswick, the professional organization for CPAs in our province, is dedicated to addressing the challenges outlined above by growing the CPA talent pipeline,” says Lapierre. “We are creating partnerships with government to support the continued growth of this crucial sector of the economy, and we welcome likeminded businesses and agencies to enhance our efforts.

“We have New Brunswick-specific advantages, such as our bilingual workforce; ranking third in the country for the share of the population with a strong or very strong sense of belonging; and the flexibility of remote working. Now is the time to leverage those advantages to promote the growth of the CPA profession in New Brunswick, allowing us to move all of the province forward,” concludes Lapierre.

The Economic Footprint of New Brunswick CPAs

In 2021, the business and household spending associated with the 2,253 active CPAs in the province:

  • boosted provincial GDP by $418 million;
  • supported $317 million in total income;
  • supported 3,000 full-time equivalent jobs across the province;
  • generated $136 million in tax revenue for governments including $77.5million for provincial and local governments.

The income induced by CPAs led to $262 million in household spending on goods and services including $60 million on shelter costs, $59 million on transportation and $41 million on food.

The Potential Benefits of Growing the CPA Workforce

In 2021, the accounting services sector in New Brunswick generated $274 million in provincial GDP and supported over 3,300 jobs.

  • The sector generates on average $40 million worth of interprovincial and international export revenue per year.
  • Boosting export revenue to national per capita level would increase provincial GDP annually by $24 million and provincial and local tax coffers by $3.9 million.
  • The average CPA (*through direct, indirect and induced impacts):
    • boosts provincial GDP by $186,000/year.
    • supports $116,000 in household spending on goods and services.
    • induces an estimated $34,000 in tax revenue for provincial and local governments.

Based on these multipliers, an additional 500 CPAs in New Brunswick would boost annual GDP by $93 million, total income by more than $70 million and provincial/local tax revenue by $17million.

Focusing on Growing the CPA Talent Pool

The accountant and financial auditor workforce is distributed across the economy with 44% employed in the accounting services sector, 19% in public administration/health care/education, 9% in manufacturing, 5% in finance and insurance and 6% in trade.

The Conference Board of Canada prepared a CPA supply and demand forecast through 2030 and estimated there would be a small surplus of CPAs during the period.

However, the Board’s forecast was based on a weak economic outlook. A stronger outlook would lead to more domestic demand for CPAs. Further, as shown in Section 4.1, a 10% annual exports growth rate in the accounting services sector would create a 330+ CPA deficit through 2030.

To ensure a strong talent pipeline, CPA New Brunswick and government should focus on:

  • boosting the talent pipeline in the province’s universities (only 0.9% of the national graduates in 2020);
  • continuing to encourage young women into the profession;
  • attracting immigrants coming to Canada with an accounting background (there has been a significant increase in recent years);
  • working deliberately to attract more visible minorities and Indigenous persons into the CPA workforce (Indigenous currently only 1.7% of accountants and financial auditors);
  • continuing to ensure a bilingual CPA workforce (a NB-specific advantage);
  • continuing to promote self-employment as a career avenue for young people considering the profession.

The Case for CPAs to Live and Work in New Brunswick

There is a strong case for CPAs to build their careers in New Brunswick:

  1. The cost of living is lower here (example: average household spending on shelter is 63% higher in Ontario);
  2. Commuting to work times are much lower here (CPAs can cut their commute times from an hour or more down to a few minutes);
  3. City, country and waterfront living is open to everyone;
  4. New Brunswick has limited crime and strong social cohesion (example: 82% of adults report having limited stress in their lives);
  5. There are a broad range of career opportunities for CPAs;
  6. CPAs can live and work in both English and French.

Download the report