Skip to Main Content

Canada’s Anti Spam Legislation (CASL): How Will It Affect Trade Unions?

April 23, 2014

In December 2010, Canada passed what may be the most sweeping anti-spam legislation in the world. Unofficially known as CASL (for “Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation”), the Act comes into effect on July 1, 2014.

The Act regulates the sending of “commercial electronic messages”. The broad definition of “commercial” in the Act may catch all kinds of electronic messages, and not just those we would normally think of as spam. Businesses, charities and other non-profit organizations have been lobbying against the broad terms of the legislation for several years. However, the legislation, which has been described as “diabolically” difficult to understand, is about to come into effect and organizations and individuals will be obliged to comply with it.

Determining how the Act will be interpreted and applied, and how the Act’s vaguely drafted exceptions may apply, is difficult to predict. But the penalties for breaching the Act are high and many unions and other non-profit organizations are wondering how the Act may apply to them.

Here is our summary and analysis of CASL, as we understand it at the moment. The CRTC, which is responsible for enforcing the anti-spam provisions of the legislation, will be releasing new information bulletins that may assist in clarifying some of the vague and ambiguous terms of the legislation and its regulations. If and when that happens, we will update any information that appears to be relevant to trade unions.


Vanessa Payne, Ethan Poskanzer, Nadine Blum

Practice Areas

Privacy & Access to Information