Beginning on July 1, 2017, Canada’s anti-spam laws will come into full effect. Unfortunately, many businesses don’t believe that they need to comply with this new legislation. However, as of this date, it will be illegal to send business emails to people who did not give their explicit consent; in other words, people must now voluntarily check a box or fill out an online form so that businesses can communicate with them. 

Spam is indeed an irritant for most people; the level of complaints received by governing bodies attests to spam’s ineffectiveness as a marketing tactic. Spamming is nevertheless on the rise. Since last October, the CRTC has received, on average, 1000 complaints per day. “The major mistake companies make is thinking that they are adhering to the anti-spam law by adding a means to unsubscribe at the bottom of their newsletters. However, it is important to note that Canada’s anti-spam legislation also includes business emails and texts messages—even if they are not sent via mass mailing,” explained Philippe Le Roux, President at Certimail, a company created to help businesses that are looking to set up a compliance program. 

Businesses must now respect three main principles when they send out emails. First, they must obtain the express consent of recipients. Second, they must clearly identify what their business offers and avoid all false or misleading representations. Finally, they must have the appropriate means to quickly exclude anybody who no longer wishes to receive any emails. Companies will not be held responsible for any complaints if they are able to prove that they have respected these three principles. 

According to a study conducted by Certimail, 16% of SMEs are not planning to adhere to this new legislation. Even more astonishing: 22% don’t even know how to comply. It’s important that companies understand that people have a right to say no to receiving emails and respect their wishes. 

When the legislation comes into effect, the volume of mailing lists will inevitably diminish. Companies will have to find other means to reach their target audiences. In general, people don’t like mass-mail newsletters. That is why businesses will have to develop good strategies and compelling messages to rebuild their email lists. A creative digital opt-in approach is sure to generate higher response rates—and even new prospects!


Marchand, Julien. Loi anti-pourriel : se préparer avant le 1er juillet. Infopresse. 21 avril 2017.

Marchal, Mathias. Les entreprises québécoises mal préparées à la loi anti-pourriels. Huffington Post. 9 mai 2017.

LeRoux, Philippe. 1M de plaintes : le CRTC fait le sur la loi C-28. Certimail. 16 mai 2017.

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