Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada is cutting 20% of its workforce ahead of a move by provincial oversight bodies in Ontario and Quebec to split from the national organization.

The organization, which represents chartered professional accountants across Canada, had about 400 employees across the country before the cuts.

CPA Ontario and the Quebec CPA Order announced in June last year they would be exiting their agreement with CPA Canada, triggering an 18-month countdown to a split.

CPA Canada president and CEO Pamela Steer said that Ontario and Quebec’s pending withdrawal triggered a review, which resulted in the decision to streamline the organization “in order to position CPA Canada for long-term sustainability.”

In a memo to staff last week that was obtained by The Canadian Press, Steer said despite many discussions and ongoing efforts, it has become clear that Ontario and Quebec will not change their current path, which means they will leave CPA Canada as of December.

“The impending withdrawals of CPA Ontario and CPA Quebec leave us in a challenging operating environment,” Steer wrote in the memo.

“After sober reflection on future needs, it became clear that organizational changes are needed to ensure the long-term success of a CPA Canada that best serves members and the profession.”

Before the two organizations announced their departure, CPA Canada had been undergoing a governance review over the past five years. But the Quebec CPA Order and CPA Ontario had been stuck on certain key governance-related issues with the national organization.

“Our differences are not trivial matters. They are fundamental differences on fundamental issues,” said Carol Wilding, president and CEO of CPA Ontario, in an interview last fall.

Both organizations cited concerns about CPA Canada’s financial transparency regarding education programs, which the national body has disputed. Meanwhile, CPA Canada has said that the two provincial groups were seeking stronger representation on the national board.

CPA Canada was created in 2013 to unify the various professional accounting organizations and designations. The national organization is responsible for standards and coordinates education and exams while the regional organizations are responsible for regulation and enforcement.

Both the Ontario and Quebec organizations previously said that their departure will not undo the unification of the accounting profession, but CPA Canada has said that their decision puts the profession at risk.

Neither provincial organization has seen job cuts as a result of their decisions to split with CPA Canada, spokespeople confirmed Monday.

Both organizations said they are committed to working with CPA Canada and provincial colleagues on things like education and standard-setting, and to ensure those areas receive financial support.