Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation ("CASL") will come
into effect July 1, 2014. CASL applies to every organization in
Canada that sends commercial electronic messages, including
registered charities and non-profit organizations that use e-mail
or text messages to communicate with stakeholders, donors or the
Of particular importance to charities and NPOs are the
provisions of CASL that will restrict organizations from sending
"commercial electronic messages" ("CEMs")
without consent of the recipient. Generally, after July 1 an
organization can send CEMs only to those recipients who have given
consent, either expressly or by certain prescribed types of
implication, to receiving messages from the organization. All CEMs
must include prescribed content and an unsubscribe mechanism.
While CASL itself provides an exemption for electronic messages
from registered charities that have the primary purpose of raising
funds for the organization, several questions exist regarding the
application of CASL to various other kinds of electronic
communications that charities send. For instance, is a
charity's newsletter a restricted CEM?
A recent release by Imagine Canada helps to clarify the
application of CASL to registered charities and provides some
comfort for those that are struggling to comply by the
The release reports that Industry Canada (one of the agencies
that will enforce CASL) has advised that its policy will be as
The exemption for "fundraising" communications from
registered charities will be interpreted to include all activities
that fall under the CRA's administrative definition of
fundraising, which includes the sale of goods to raise funds and
activities that are indirectly required for effective fundraising,
such as recruitment and training of fundraisers and donor
In addition to a broad interpretation of fundraising,
communications related to several other activities carried out by
registered charities that contain a minor commercial element will
be overlooked, including:
newsletters that promote upcoming fundraising events, even
where mention is made of corporate sponsors of those events;
promoting charitable activities that may involve a
cost-recovery element; and,
the promotion of events and the sale of tickets by
organizations such as those of performing arts or cultural
institutions, where the proceeds flow directly to the charity.
The release also emphasizes that CASL only restricts the sending
of commercial electronic messages, and that messages that are
purely informational (including newsletters that do not promote
commercial activities) are outside the scope of CASL and are not
However, electronic communications from a registered charity
that are clearly commercial in nature, which potentially includes
messages with regard to a charity's related business
activities, are within the scope of CASL and a charity will need
the consent of recipients to continue to send such messages after
Unfortunately, it appears that neither the fundraising
exemption, nor this administrative policy will apply to non-profit
organizations. This means that non-profit organizations will
generally need consent in order to send certain electronic
communications. However, many non-profits will be able to
take advantage of the implied consent rules, and at least a portion
of communications by a non-profit organization (those that have do
not promote commercial activities) should fall outside the reach of
CASL. Non-profit organizations are also able to send electronic
communications to members without restriction.
While the many exemptions, exceptions and rules of CASL are too
numerous to describe here, express consent remains the surest way
to ensure that an organization can continue to send electronic
messages to its audience. Many organizations have begun to seek the
express consent of those persons currently receiving electronic
messages so that the organization can continue to communicate with
them after July 1. For more detailed information on CASL, please
see the Bull Housser CASL micro-site
We strongly recommend that every charity and non-profit
organization carefully consider the impact of CASL on its
communications and take appropriate action before the July 1
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.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
Under the Income Tax Act, the Employment Insurance Act, and the Excise Tax Act, a director of a corporation is jointly and severally liable for a corporation's failure to deduct and remit source deductions or GST.
Under the Income Tax Act, the Employment Insurance Act, the Canada Pension Plan Act and the Excise Tax Act, a director of a corporation is jointly and severally liable for a corporation's failure to deduct and remit source deductions.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).