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Things to know

  • Contests are primarily governed by the federal Competition Act and Criminal Code. The misleading advertising provisions in provincial consumer protection legislation also apply to contest advertising.
  • Contests must have a set of written rules, disclosing at least the minimum disclosure requirements set out in the Competition Act.
  • The Criminal Code prohibits awarding prizes solely on the basis of chance or requiring a participant to pay money or other valuable consideration in order to participate in the contest or draw if the prize is goods, wares or merchandise.
    • Most contests include a no-purchase form of entry and require the winner to answer a skill-testing question to avoid these issues.
  • Companies running contests wholly or partly in Quebec must register the contest with the government, unless the contest is international in scope and not solely directed to participants in Québec or in Canada generally. This includes paying duties, posting security, and reporting the list of winners. 
  • Employee contests may raise tax reporting implications.
  • The collection and use of contestants’ personal information for marketing purposes requires informed consent under privacy laws.

Things to do

  • Ensure your contest rules set out the minimum disclosures required by the Competition Act.
  • Include a no-purchase entry option and a skill-testing question, if necessary.
  • Register promotional contests that are open to residents of Quebec.
  • Ensure the contest rules are readily available to contest participants. Ensure that, at a minimum, “mini rules”, including a web site link to the full rules, are included in all contest advertising.
  • Obtain appropriate consent for any subsequent marketing activities to the contestants.
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