Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation and 
HRPA's electronic messages

Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) restricts the ability of organizations to send commercial electronic messages without the consent of the recipient.

As it relates to the activities of a professional association, the Privacy Commissioner's Fact Sheet states: "Collecting membership fees, organizing club activities, compiling a list of members' names and addresses, and mailing out newsletters are not considered commercial activities."

HRPA sought legal advice to further clarify what is "commercial activity" as it pertains to HRPA.

Conference, Events and Professional Development exempt from CASL
​"It is unlikely that HRPA's annual conference, professional development and chapter events would be considered commercial activities. … The objects of the HRPA set out in  the governing Act include promoting education and providing a medium for communication and exchange of information. The annual conference, professional development and chapter events would appear to further these non-commercial objectives and are not done for the purpose of earning profit. Accordingly, my view is that they would not be considered commercial in nature."

The general rule is that when an activity is in furtherance of one of the statutory objects of the Association, such an activity would not be deemed to be of commercial character. As spelled out in the Registered Human Resources Professionals Act, 2013, the statutory objects of the Association are:

4. The objects of the Association are,

(a) to promote and protect the public interest by governing and regulating the practice of members of the Association and firms in accordance with this Act and the by-laws, including,

(i) establishing, maintaining, developing and enforcing standards of qualification,

(ii) establishing, maintaining, developing and enforcing standards of practice,

(iii) establishing, maintaining, developing and enforcing standards of professional ethics,

(iv) establishing, maintaining, developing and enforcing standards of knowledge, skill and proficiency, and

(v)  regulating the practice, competence and professional conduct of members of the Association and firms;

(b) to promote and increase the knowledge, skill and proficiency of members of the Association, firms and students;

(c) to promote and protect the welfare and interests of the Association and of the human resources profession;

(d) to promote inter-professional collaboration with other professional bodies;

(e) to address any other matter that relates to the regulation of its members that the Board considers appropriate.

Association communications that are not "commercial electronic messages" and thus not subject to CASL include:

  • Communications relating to association governance (notices of elections, notices of general and special meetings of the membership, notices regarding changes in by- laws, etc.)

  • Communications relating to professional regulation (communications regarding registration, certification, complaints, discipline, Rules of Professional Conduct, practice standards and guidelines, regulatory processes and procedures, etc.)

  • Communications relating to activities that further the statutory objects of the association, including, but not limited to, membership, annual conference, professional development and mentoring offerings, chapter events, and the exchange of information, knowledge and ethical standards related to professional practice.

There may be some HRPA communications, however, which would not relate to the objects of the association. These would be deemed "commercial electronic messages" and subject to CASL. Such commercial electronic messages will include an "unsubscribe" option or can be unsubscribed from using the Preference Centre. Also see Privacy Policy

 

Claude Balthazard, CHRL, C. Psych
Vice President Regulatory Affairs and Privacy Officer


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