Job Details

The Auditor General of Canada is responsible for providing independent and reliable information about the federal government’s use of federal tax dollars. The Auditor General performs regular audits as to how the Canadian government collects and uses tax money. Auditor Generals go through government financial records and produce reports for the Parliament and the public to examine their findings. An Auditor General is responsible to the House of Commons, rather than the government, as they produce their findings directly to the House of Commons. The Auditor General doesn’t only describe government finances, but also comments on how effectively the federal tax money is being spent. They usually draw attention to situations where they presume that the federal government is misusing public funds by examining closely as to where and how the public funds are being used. They are also responsible for evaluating the government’s effort in protecting the environment and sustainable development. Their role is connected to that of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, who is attached to the Auditor General’s office. The Auditor General plays a key part in ensuring accountability in the federal government. The Auditor General also takes responsibility of the territorial governments and reports them to their respective territorial legislatures. The provinces also have their own auditors who report to the provincial legislatures.


The responsibility of auditing government finances was performed by the federal Deputy Minister of Finance before an independent office of the Auditor General was created in 1878. Their work was much more limited compared to today as they were only required to examine and report on past transactions and issue government cheques. Every year the House of Commons would receive an annual report from the Auditor General, which listed all the transactions made by the federal government during the year. By 1931 the Auditor General’s role was changed to accommodate a separate government position, the Comptroller of the Treasury, which was created for issuing government cheques. This distinguished the responsibilities of the government and the Auditor General. The government was responsible for collecting and using public funds while the Auditor General was tasked with examining and reporting how the public funds were distributed.

It wasn’t until the 1950s that the modern role of the Auditor General was established. Auditor Generals began to report “non-productive payments” made by the federal government, which the Auditor General stated to have no benefits for Canadians. This change was very controversial at first as some argued that the Auditor General was going beyond their assigned job and commenting on government policy. The Auditor General Act, which was established in 1977, brought about more changes as the Act broadened and clarified the Auditor General’s authorization. The Act allowed the Auditor General to not only report government transactions, but also to asses how well the government managed its finances. However, this Act also limited the Auditor General’s role to commenting on how the government applied its policies, rather than commenting on the policies. In 1995, the Auditor General Act was changed with the establishment of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development within the Office of the Auditor General. The Commissioner provides detailed analysis and recommendations regarding policies on environmental protection and sustainable development for the federal government.

Job Pros and Cons

The Auditor General Act and the Financial Administration Act provide the basic powers and duties of an Auditor General, but there are many flaws to their job. The Auditor General has the power to examine and report the financial activities of governmental departments, agencies, and Crown corporations. The Auditor General is entitled to free access to all information that relates to the fulfillment of their responsibility, but the federal government is allowed to deny access to certain information in certain situations. The Auditor General has the power to demand and receive any information, reports, or explanations that they consider necessary from members of the federal public service. The Auditor General may examine any person under oath on any matter when in certain situations, where they are considered to possess the same powers as a public enquiry commissioner. The Auditor General has the power to station their staff in any public service when they believe it is suitable to do so. The Auditor General and his/her staff are provided with several key legal immunities, such as not being compelled as a witness to testify on any matter that came to their attention while performing their duties. However this doesn’t apply if it is a criminal case. The Auditor General is also immune from prosecution for any action that they performed in good faith while trying to do their job. This may include any cases where an Auditor General reports on the activities of an individual. Finally the Auditor General has no authorization to comment on the government’s choice of policies.

Why One Should Apply for the Job- Affects on Accounting Profession

The Office of the Auditor General has been selected as one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers making it one of the most sought out careers for those who want to become accountants. Some facts that make the job so great are that employees are given three weeks’ vacation after their first year on the job, provides generous maternity and paternity leaves for new mothers, provides health benefits, and conducts one of the best retirement plans. Three of the most well-known accountants include a CA (Chartered Accountant), CMA (Certified Management Accountant), and CGA (Certified General Accountant). These three accounting bodies are the most common job preferences for those who want to become accountants as an Auditor General requires a lot of work experience and maturity. The office of the Auditor General employs a small number of accountants who are divided among the Head Office in Ottawa and the regional offices in Vancouver, Montreal, Edmonton, and Halifax.


The future still perceives that becoming an Auditor General is a great career path as the Office of the Auditor General is one of the best employers in Canada. The job is not likely to be one of the most entertaining jobs that one may want, but it does give one the opportunity to be involved in the government. With the help of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development, the Auditor General profession will also deal more with environmental protection and sustainable development as this is a growing issue. There has been increased participation in hearings and briefings concerning the subject by the Auditor General.



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quality, t. i., & progress., o. (2004, February 16). OAG A Sustainable Development Strategy for the Office of the Auditor General—2003–2006.Welcome page | Page d’accueil. Retrieved April 4, 2011, from

By: Niesanthan