Canada's Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL)
Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) puts some restrictions on electronic communications (e.g., emails, text messages, targeted social media messages). Only “commercial” electronic messages are affected, which would exclude most of midwives’ electronic communications with clients (e.g., practice group picnics) or the marketing of midwifery services as they are not for sale or barter. However, any electronic communications offering to sell or advertising a product (e.g., homeopathics) or a service (e.g., prenatal classes) would be subject to this new law. Any commercial electronic communications (under this definition) must meet the following criteria:
- As midwives’ practice communications would not meet the definition of implied consent, the recipient needs to have provided express consent to receiving the message, either in writing (e.g., on an intake form) or orally if documented (e.g., during a clinic visit).
- The electronic communication needs to identify the person sending the message and whom it is sent on behalf of (if different). It also needs to include the sender’s business name, mailing address, and either a telephone number or an email address.
- The electronic communication must provide the recipient with a mechanism to unsubscribe from future communications. Any method can be used, so long as it is simple, quick and easy for the recipient. For example, practice groups could include a statement in their emails telling recipients that they can unsubscribe by replying to the email with the word “unsubscribe” in the subject line.
While most practice group communications will be unaffected, substantial penalties have been levied for non-compliance. Practice groups should consider which of their electronic communications may be affected, how they will comply with this law (e.g. asking for explicit consent from current contacts), and how they will track the provision of consent (e.g. by maintaining emails providing consent and charting consent provided orally).