Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) – What does it mean for my business?

Note: This page summarizes formal requirements under Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL). CFIB continues to hear from small business owners on the practical considerations of CASL, and will provide more information on this front as it becomes available. Please bookmark this page and check back weekly for updates.


On July 1st, 2014 Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL) came into effect with the threat of very severe penalties for those caught in noncompliance. Since then we have closely watched government enforcement and listened closely to what our members are telling us. We continue to believe it is unlikely that a small business who diligently tries to comply will become a target of government enforcement over the next year.

Update from the Minister of Industry

The Minister of Industry, The Honourable James Moore, responded to our concerns by outlining the intent of CASL, which reaffirmed that small businesses sending legitimate commercial electronic messages would not be targeted for enforcement.

Intended Target of Enforcement under CASL 

  • Organized spamming operations
  • Collectors of huge amounts of money through spamming operations
  • Distributors of malware
  • Identify thieves

Note:  There are no exemptions for those who send limited amounts of e-mail each month or year. All Commercial Electronic Messages must comply with CASL. Also, there is no automatic penalty for violating CASL. Even for those pursued by the CRTC, the government must consider:

  • The nature of violation
  • The individual or organization’s history of violations
  • Whether financial benefit was received from violation
  • The ability to pay the penalty


Consent is key. There are two types: implied and express. The minister noted the following relationships/activities fall within the CASL rules between now and July 1, 2017 under implied consent:

  • A Pre-CASL business relationships exists, and consent is also implied when customers have inquired about products or services before July 1st, 2014. Relationships with transactions within the past 24 months
  • Between now and July 1st, 2017 any implied consent can turn into express consent through request. Once express consent is given, it never expires unless the person who gives it unsubscribes.
  • New customers for up to 6 months after inquiry.
  • Business-to-business marketing where business address is published and electronic message is related to work.

Express Consent

Express consent is when a person or organization gives you explicit permission to communicate with them electronically. While express consent is the “gold standard”, implied consent will do fine for most businesses while they get their systems in place for July 1, 2017. (See compliance guidelines for definitions). You may already have the consent you need for the time being. What will ultimately be required is a records system to track permissions as well as an unsubscribe option for message recipients.

We will continue to monitor CASL and keep you updated. Please continue to share your concerns and stories with us. This will help us advocate on your behalf and represent Canadian Small Businesses to all levels of government. 


This information is meant to give you a basic understanding of CASL and how it impacts your business. For additional information, contact our Business Resource department at 1-888-234-2232. Keep in mind that advice from our counsellors is not legal advice.


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