Peter-John Barclay, President and CEO of DriveABLE Assessment Centres Inc, says being a CA(SA) has granted him access to a job straight out of university and opened doors to multiple opportunities

Five years ago, Peter-John Barclay adventurously set out to Edmonton, Canada, for an international experience and says it has matured him in all aspects of life. Landing in an environment where he was considered the outsider, he had no option but to make it work. And he did just that. Going from the guy who didn’t get ‘the joke’ and couldn’t participate in sports discussions, with avid intention he began to knit into his Canadian  community and today has developed a reputation for being the guy who chats to ‘randoms’. But it’s only because he was once a ‘random’, too.

From a career perspective, the opportunity to participate in the North American market has been incredible.

Originally from:

Pretoria, South Africa

What do you love most about Canada?

The outdoors. Edmonton has the  North Saskatchewan River Valley parks system, which is the largest urban park in Canada, while the Rocky Mountains are nearby to snowboard in winter and hike in summer.

Your current job tile and the name of company you’re working for?

President and CEO of DriveABLE Assessment Centres Inc.

We deliver cognitive assessment tools to commercial fleets, governments, insurers, and the medical community.

How has your CA(SA) qualification benefited your career?

Coming to Canada, the designation gave me credibility in a country where I had to start from scratch.

The Canadian accounting body changed their rules whereby you are no longer required to write a reciprocity exam if you are a CA(SA) and the designation sped up my permanent residency application, highlighting the quality of the designation.

How has international experience enriched your life and career?

It has been invaluable for my career and I would recommend it to those who have the desire to do it. Exposure to a different market broadens your horizons and provides experience in different challenges. I am not saying it makes you better than someone else, but it does give you something extra to bring to the table which could prove to be an advantage.

Is there a community of South Africans living in Canada?

There is actually a good group of South Africans in my church. We have two South African stores in the city and in traffic you can’t miss the odd Bulls supporter with balls hanging from his bakkie!

What do people do in Canada to relax and enjoy their free time?

In winter it’s snowboarding, ice hockey or ice fishing and in summer people indulge in the long days on bar patios, cycling and jogging in the River Valley, fishing in the lakes and hiking. Major bands include us on their tours so you have access to incredible acts. Edmonton is known for its cultural, food, music and art festivals, so there is one literally every weekend in the summer.

What do you miss most about South Africa?

I miss my family and friends and South African lifestyle. I am passionate about South Africa. I view it as home and will return at some point in the future.

What does a South African earn in Canada and how does the income tax system work?

Average income per stats Canada is 60 000 Canadian dollars a year. A newly qualified CA would start at between 80 000 and 100 000 dollars and then move up from there. The tax system is comparative to the South African model.

Cost of living in Canada?

Intermediate to expensive. Average rent is approximately 1 200 dollars a month while the housing market is far more expensive for what you get when you compare it to South Africa.

A flat starts at 200 000 dollars while a small home is anywhere from 350 000 dollars on the outskirts to an average of 500 000 across the city.

Food has become comparable to South Africa and entertainment in terms of eating out is about 2–3 times more expensive than South Africa. The average is 22 dollars per meal and 6–9 dollars a drink. Consumer goods are typically cheaper.

There is a public health system so you only pay a small amount for top-up insurance. Schooling is paid by the government.  University fees are exceptionally expensive, especially if you are a foreign national.

Based on these factors, can a South African come to Canada to save money or is it difficult because of the cost of living?

As a professional with appropriate spending habits you will be in a position to save fairly soon after getting set up.

The system is designed to allow you to save, but people often get caught in the American consumer market and land up pretty stretched.