I think you are right, though I have never tried the US process.
For Canadian CA process, the stress starts from university. First, top grades to get into good accounting firms. After school, while working full-time, you have to prepare for 3 exams, one after another in one year. After school and exams, you have to watch for work efficiency. Otherwise, people will come to ask you, '' why did you spend extra xx hours on this file?"
I am taking it easy now as I've got those 5 letters. Done deal.