Canada Day, July 1, marks the one-year anniversary of Bill C28 – Canada’s Anti-spam Legislation (CASL) – and a new survey warns it may be impacting the competitiveness of Canadian businesses.

Among other things, CASL dramatically changed the way Canadian businesses need to handle email marketing. Emails can only be sent to those that have expressly opted into the list, those opt-ins must be preserved, and a clear unsubscribe mechanism must be provided. Companies have already faced significant fines from the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for CASL violations.

As CASL turns one, email marketing provider Cyberimpact surveyed its clients about their CASL experience and it found there has been an impact, as well as some pushback.

Our neighbours to the South, who are perceived to have onerous legislation, were singled out. While technically, CASL applies to foreign businesses selling into the Canadian market, the CRTC would have difficulty enforcing the legislation with U.S.-based companies. Perhaps that’s why some 48 per cent of those surveyed said CASL has impacted their competitiveness against U.S. businesses.

The impact of CASL has also been felt in the small and medium-sized business market, with 39 per cent of SMBs saying that the legislation has spoiled their promotional efforts. Businesses also felt that they weren’t ready for C-28, despite the long lead time between its passage and when it came into force, with 62 per cent saying the CRTC did not do a proper awareness job around CASL.

The survey results contrast with those of another email marketing provider, Constant Contact, which recently did its own client survey on CASL. It found it has been business as usual for 70 per cent of Canadian SMBs under CASL, with nine per cent increasing their email marketing efforts and just 13 per cent decreasing their efforts.

Marketing experts argue CASL shouldn’t amount to a major process change for most companies, as it merely enshrines best practices that responsible companies should be following anyway.

Cyberimpact CASL infographic

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