Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation
Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) regulates all commercial electronic messages and describes the legal requirements for distributing them.
A commercial electronic message, or CEM, is defined as any message sent to an electronic address with an intent to encourage the recipient to participate in commercial activity. Electronic addresses include emails, social media accounts, telephone accounts or any similar account.
Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation is enforced by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in partnership with Canada’s Competition Bureau and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner. The legislation was enacted to reduce the harmful effects of spam and create a safer and more secure online marketplace. Anyone who sends a CEM must comply with the requirements or risk prosecution or financial penalties.
The Canada Council for the Arts may elect to send CEMs as part of marketing and promotional campaigns. These CEMs may include, but are not limited to, emails promoting artists, performances or performers, partnerships, job or business opportunities, or program promotions.
CASL prevents businesses and individuals from sending CEMs to contacts who have not provided consent; however, CASL does not apply to all emails. Emails that are necessary to maintain business relationships, manage accounts, applications, transactions or for the purpose of research, to name a few, are not considered CEMs and, therefore, are not regulated under CASL. Contacts who have interacted with the Canada Council for the Arts may occasionally receive these types of emails. For example, individuals or organizations who have registered in the Council’s application portal will receive emails related to their account.
It is the responsibility of the sender to keep a record of their contacts’ electronic message preferences. The Canada Council for the Arts periodically reviews its mailing lists and may contact you to update your preferred contact methods and subscription profile. If you would like to update your email preferences, you can use the link at the bottom of any email you receive from firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on how CASL protects you or your business, group, or organization, please see the following pages maintained by the Government of Canada:
For questions regarding your electronic messaging preferences with the Canada Council for the Arts, please contact email@example.com.
Managing CEMs for your business, group, or organization
We encourage artists, groups, and arts organizations to explore the ways in which they communicate with their clients and stakeholders. You may need to seek consent from individuals on your contact lists.
Notable exceptions to the legislation
Registered charities conducting fundraising activities are exempt from CASL. If your arts organization is a registered charity, you can send CEMs for fundraising purposes. Emails with a commercial component, such as emails promoting festivals, workshops, exhibitions, concerts, book launches, and other such events, however, are not exempt from CASL.
Sometimes, communications might be ambiguous and it might be unclear if a message is a CEM. Refer to the resources below to explore how CASL might apply to your messages.
- CRTC resources for understanding and applying CASL (crtc.gc.ca)
- Fast Facts About Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (fightspam.gc.ca)
- The Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation
- Download a flowchart [PDF, 1.5 MB] that explains CASL step-by-step (Source: Gowlings Lafleur Henderson LLP)
- Use our free inventory chart [PDF, 181.8 KB] to categorize your communications, determine if you send Commercial Electronic Messages and if CASL applies to you.