Canada Passes Amendments to Establish DNC List

Canada's minister of industry said yesterday that the Canadian Parliament adopted amendments to the Telecommunications Act allowing for the establishment of a national do-not-call list.

John Gustavson, president/CEO of the Canadian Marketing Association, said he doesn't expect the list to take effect until summer or fall 2007. The CMA has supported passage of such a list for years, and Gustavson said that though it would affect Canada's $16 billion call center industry, it was “the right thing to do.”

The amendments give the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, which will regulate the list, power to levy fines against telemarketers who don't follow the rules.

Gustavson said the CMA is happy with the passage of the amendments, especially one that creates an exemption allowing calls to consumers with whom a business has an existing relationship. However, another amendment to allow for business-to-business calls didn't get added, though the CMA will start lobbying the CRTC immediately to change that, Gustavson said.

The amendments were passed Friday, before an expected vote of no confidence last night that would topple the government and force elections.

The CRTC also was given the power to contract with a private-sector third party to operate and maintain the list. The industry minister said the commission will begin working on the details to launch and operate the list early next year. Gustavson said the CMA will submit a request for proposal to run the registry. The CMA's own self-run do-not-contact list contains 500,000 telephone numbers.

The CRTC already had the responsibility to regulate telemarketing, but it did not have authority to establish and maintain such a list.

Parliament set penalties of up to $1,500 per call for individuals and up to $15,000 per call for corporations. Funding to operate the list will be obtained on a “cost-recovery basis from telemarketers,” the minister said. Specific cost details were unknown, and Gustavson doesn't know how much it will cost Canadian telemarketers to access the list.

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