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Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)

On behalf of AFP, Mark Blumberg, a partner at Blumberg Segal LLP and Non-Profit and Charity Law expert, drafted this document to help explain Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation2 (“CASL”). CASL will be in force on July 1, 2014, with the sections related to the unsolicited installation of computer programs or software coming into force on January 15, 2015. It is a complicated piece of legislation that will apply to commercial electronic messages (“CEM”) that are either sent from, or accessed on, a computer system in Canada, unless an exemption applies. 

AFP is aware of the interpretation of CASL that Industry Canada provided to Imagine Canada. AFP is providing this interpretation to our members as informational only until we can obtain a clearer picture of Industry Canada's application of CASL once it is in force:

Industry Canada has advised [Imagine Canada] that they interpret [CASL] to mean:

  • all activities that fall under the Canada Revenue Agency definition of fundraising, and which registered charities use to calculate their fundraising ratio, are exempt from the regulations;
  • a number of other activities, that lie beyond the CRA fundraising definition, and which charities do not have to report when calculating their fundraising ratio, will also be exempt.

What this means

Charities have been concerned that some of their activities that generate significant funds for the organization would not be exempt from CASL. Industry Canada advises us that, in addition to activities covered by the CRA fundraising definition, they deem the following types of activities to be exempt:

  • 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 (charging participants for materials, for example); 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.

By way of reminder, CASL only applies to commercial electronic messages. Newsletters and purely informational items are exempt if they do not contain commercial material.

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