Imagine Canada has published an Issue Alert resulting from discussions it had with Industry Canada about the charitable exemption to the anti-spam legislation. They say Industry Canada is interpreting this exemption broadly, which would be good news for charities.

The regulations contain an exemption that says the act does not apply to messages ” … sent by or on behalf of a registered charity as defined in subsection 248(1) of the Income Tax Act and the message has as its primary purpose raising funds for the charity”.

It was unclear how broad that exemption is in practice, given the broad definitions of CEM. Did it, for example, apply to fundraising events, or for tickets being sold by a theatre or orchestra?

Imagine Canada says Industry Canada has advised them that the exemption does apply to messages selling those things, and that ” .. “if the commercial activity is undertaken to carry out the charity’s mission, and the funds go directly to the charity to support its work, then it likely falls under the exemption.”

This is not a complete free pass for charities on CASL.  The act may still apply to some commercial activities of a charity, and might apply if a newsletter is laden with third party ads.

Lets hope Industry Canada or the CRTC adds this clarification to their own FAQs soon to give us further comfort on this.