Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation ("CASL") comes into
force on July 1, 2014, and may significantly affect the way school
boards are able to communicate with parents, employees, suppliers
and stakeholders. CASL's scope is broad, its reach is wide, and
its penalties are steep, so the time to assess CASL readiness is
CASL prohibits sending a Commercial Electronic Message
("CEM") to an electronic address unless the recipient
consents, and the message contains prescribed information. A
message is commercial if one or more of its purposes is to
encourage participation in "commercial activity",
regardless of whether or not there is an expectation of a profit. A
message qualifies as electronic if sent by any means of
telecommunication, including email, voice, or social media.
School boards, schools, parent councils and foundations
supporting school boards are advised to review the following
examples of electronic communication for CASL compliance:
School newsletters which contain offers to purchase goods and
services, such as milk, pizza, school photos, magazine
Travel opportunities offered by third party providers;
Information relating to cashless payments for goods and services
offered at school;
Communications between staff which propose a commercial activity
unrelated to school board activities;
Invitations to respond to RFP's.
Requests for express consent to receive CEM's should become
standard school board practice, and school boards should undertake
a review of their technology and software capabilities to ensure
that all forms of electronic communications satisfy prescribed
requirements. Policy and procedure updates, staff training, and
monitoring mechanisms to safeguard against inadvertent
non-compliance will also be important components in demonstrating
due diligence under the legislation and avoiding significant fines,
if a message is sent in error.
Consent to receive a CEM can be express or implied. Once CASL
comes into force, there will be restrictions on how consent can be
obtained and the form that the consent must take. After July 1, an
organization will not be able to send a CEM in order to request
consent to send further CEM's, unless there is a pre-existing
relationship, but the criteria for establishing such a relationship
are narrowly defined, and the onus of proof will rest with the
Certain kinds of commercial electronic messages are exempt from
CASL requirements. For example, a message that has as its primary
purpose raising funds for a charity.
Where a CEM does not qualify as exempt, and it is not sent with
recipient's express or implied consent, and with the required
content, the sender can be subject to extremely onerous
administrative monetary penalties, which can be levied per incident
of non-compliance. Effective July 1, 2017, recipients will also
have a private right of action against the sender.
Now is the time to consider the most effective methods to become
compliant and avoid inadvertent and expensive errors.
We will be discussing issues relating to CASL
compliance in greater detail during our March 'Morning
Recess' webinar, on Thursday, March 20 at
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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