There is a new law meant to stop, or at least reduce, spam emails. Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation, or CASL, prohibits people from sending commercial messages without consent of the receiver.

Communication with our members is vitally important, and this new legislation should not impede or discourage CUPE from speaking with its members. Unions are not exempt from the law, but CUPE is confident it does not apply to the vast majority of communications and messages we send to our members every day, because they are not commercial in nature.

To offer further guidance, CUPE’s legal branch has prepared this FAQ. This law wasn’t drafted with unions in mind, so the FAQ tries to predict how it will be interpreted and applied to unions. If you have a questions not covered, please ask your National Representative.

Due Diligence

As mentioned above, due diligence will be a complete defence against any alleged violations. Here are some things you can do protect yourself and the local:

Review how you communicate with members, Rand formula members of the bargaining unit, allies and others.

Assess whether any electronic messages you send to any of them might be considered commercial.

If so, assess whether they are cover by the anti-spam law or exempted. Speak to your National Representative.

If your messages are exempted, you don’t need to do anything. If not, and you send them with consent (implied or express), make sure they have identifying information and an unsubscribe mechanism.

If you seek express consent, make sure you do it right and with all the appropriate information required.

Make sure you have a spreadsheet or database of your mailing list that lets you track all information relating to implied or express consent – i.e. who is a member and who isn’t, who has consented and when and how they did so.

Have policies in place to ensure that un-exempted commercial messages are not sent without express or implied consent.

Make sure your compliance procedures and policies are recorded and maintained.

Review what you’re doing and developments in the law from time to time and adapt as needed.

Appoint a Table Officer to be responsible for ensuring compliance and to be the ‘go to’ person on anti-spam issues.

When in doubt ask! Call your National Representative.