international rural exchange canada farming agriculture saskatchewan manitoba alberta travel travelling exchange program agricultural livestock outbound inbound hosting travel the world discover canada host travellers ire canada anita warriner foster laurie fornwald horticulture horses cows beef learn educate education grow farm farming farmer Hosting agriculture trainees through International Rural Exchange can be a very rewarding experience for both trainee and host. From the outset, we want to be clear that the International Rural Exchange is not an employment agency. Rather, we facilitate learning for both trainee and host in agriculture, as well as cross-cultural understanding. What does IRE provide for hosts? The IRE matches up trainees and hosts, and does paperwork that the trainee submits to the Canadian embassy in order to obtain their work permit. We do our best to match the skills of the trainee with the needs of the farm, and to take into account any special circumstances that either the trainee or host might have. IRE also has regular contact with hosts and trainees in order to ensure that placements are going well. In case of difficulty in the placement, we try to facilitate solutions that help both host and trainee. In the rare case that we have to move a trainee, we do our best to find the trainee a new placement. We also offer information on filing taxes, farm safety, cultural awareness and any other questions that may arise. IRE also provides opportunities for trainees to meet each other, including a training seminar that happens both in Brandon and Edmonton each year, as well as a trainee fun weekend at Kenosee Lake, Saskatchewan(which includes day trip to the Farm Progress Show in Regina). What do hosts need to supply for the trainee? Hosts provide trainees with a welcoming atmosphere, room and board, and minimum wage. Hosts come with varying expectations, but the ones that work out best in the long run have a sense of humour, an interest in learning about other cultures, and the ability to be patient and teach when needed. What does the trainee supply for the host? Trainees come with a desire to learn, a willingness to work hard, and openness to learning about Canadian culture. Trainees come with varying amounts of experience. Sometimes they are highly skilled, other times they are still developing their skills. Trainees are required to have at least two years of farming experience of some sort. Many trainees are enrolled in university or agricultural technical schools in their home country. What is the trainee wage? Each year, the Board of Directors of the International Rural Exchange sets the wage rate for the coming farming season. It is based on the highest minimum wage for the prairie provinces, plus fifty cents an hour. For the 2012 farming year, it will be $10.50 per hour, and $11 for overtime. The normal work week for an IRE trainee is 45 hours. If more than 45 hours are worked, then overtime should be paid. Overtime can be paid each pay period, or it can be given as earned time off. Some hosts pay their trainees during their 3 week holiday time, rather than each pay period. Also, if a host wishes to pay a trainee more than the set IRE wage, the additional amount should be paid as a bonus at the end of the summer, rather than on each paycheque. This helps to avoid trainees making comparisons between farms, and helps to avoid problems for everyone. Also, it gives the trainee a little extra money to go home on. What deductions should be taken off the paycheque? Trainees are subject to standard deductions of CPP and EI. If the trainee is only in Canada for 3 months, you may not need to deduct income tax. There is a box on the TD1 form where the employee can check that they are a foreign worker in Canada and do not expect to pay income tax. Even if you do deduct income tax, the trainee gets a tax refund in most cases. When they do file taxes, it is important that they fill out "Schedule 1" as well as the income tax form for non-Canadians in order that they are treated properly under tax laws. Trainees can file their taxes as they are leaving Canada, or the following April. Often, hosts help the trainee to file their taxes, whether through their farm accountant or by the host themself. There is easy-to- use, free tax software online that is sufficient for most trainees tax filing needs. What about holidays for trainees? Trainees in Canada for at least 6 months are entitled to 3 weeks of unpaid holidays. Holidays are often taken in July, but it must be a mutually agreeable time for both trainee and host. Some hosts pay their trainees holiday time, rather than paying overtime in each pay period. What kind of housing does the host need to provide? Housing is often a room in the family home, but it can be in a secondary house on the yard, or a trailer. If a room is in the basement, it must have an exit window that is passable in case of a fire. Very occasionally, a trainee might be housed in a location off-site from the farm. In this case, special care must be taken to ensure that the trainee has sufficient contact with the family in order ensure a good quality cultural experience. How can a host show a trainee what Canadian culture is like? Hosts can offer many experiences to trainees, and include them in activities such as family gatherings, community events, going for coffee, enjoying cottage or lake time, auction sales, trade shows, golf, rodeos, picnics and whatever special events there might be in your area such as auto racing or street dances. Different trainees have different interests, and different maturity levels. Trainees are at a very formative time in their lives, and at various times patience, forgiveness, or guidance might be needed. What kind of food does the host need to provide? In most cases, we ask that at least 10 meals per week are with the family, especially in the busy times of seeding and harvest. In some cases, it is not practical for the trainee to eat with the family, but as is the case with off-site housing, special care must be taken to make sure the trainee has sufficient contact with Canadian culture (including food) to have a positive and welcoming experience. What does the trainee pay for? The trainee is responsible for the cost of their airfare to and from Canada. They are also responsible for the cost of sufficient medical insurance for the duration of the time that they are in Canada. Sometimes, trainees are eligible for Provincial Health Coverage, but they still need to keep private health insurance, as the Government of Canada requires that they have repatriation insurance, which is not covered by provincial health coverage. What about other Insurance? The Board of Directors of the International Rural Exchange highly recommends that all hosts procure Worker's Compensation Insurance. It can be invaluable in case of minor or serious injury that occurs on the job. Farming is the most dangerous occupation in Canada, and at all times we want to keep safety and caution at the forefront. How do trainees get around once they are in Canada? Most trainees need access to a vehicle while they are in Canada. Trainees may occasionally use a host's vehicle, but we do not recommend that unless you have checked with your insurance provider and they have given the okay, as liability issues could arise if the trainee is involved in an accident. Some hosts help the trainee to find a low cost, reliable vehicle to use while they are in Canada. Other hosts own a "trainee car" that they lease to trainees for a monthly fee, but the trainee purchases the license and insurance for the vehicle. Again, this avoids potential liability issues. Is it difficult to have an extra person in your house? Every host will answer that question differently, but as long as there is good communication between host and trainee, the vast majority of trainee-host relationships work out well. We provide a discussion sheet for hosts to go over with their trainees when they first arrive in Canada, so that the trainee begins to understand expectations and procedures of the host. It is very beneficial to have regular meetings with the trainee to check and see how things are for them. Often, difficulties are much easier to take care of when they are identified early on, and not allowed to fester. What if something goes wrong? If there are difficulties that cannot be solved by good communication between host and trainee, we have a trainee-host contact coordinator that speaks to both parties and tries to help find a workable solution to the issues that have arisen. Often, more information on cultural differences or very direct communication can make difficult situations better. If issues cannot be resolved we help to coordinate the departure of the trainee from the farm, and make new placements when appropriate. How is IRE governed? The IRE is run by a volunteer Board of Directors. Directors are elected at the Annual Host Family meeting, which takes place in April each year at the end of the Trainee Seminar in Brandon. The Board meets twice yearly in person, and by conference call when required. If you are a host, and interested in serving on the Board, please contact Anita Warriner, Administrator, or Char Slager, Chairperson of the Board. How much do host families pay in fees to I.R.E.? Each calendar year, any host wishing to remain part of the host family association pays a $50 membership fee. Then, for each trainee that is placed at your farm, you would pay a $350 placement fee. Please note that host families who have been with the organization longer will be offered trainees first, but we are expecting a fairly good supply of trainees in 2012, and we hope to be able to successfully place all hosts. However, we do have a limit of 60 placements in total, including short and long-term trainees, as that is the quota that we have been granted by the Government of Canada. Do I have to take a trainee if I am offered one? No, you are not obligated to take a trainee that is offered to you. If you turn down a trainee, you might not be offered another one if we have a low supply remaining. You will only pay a placement fee if you accept a trainee. If you want to stay in the organization, but don't want a trainee in a calendar year, simply pay the $50 membership fee to stay a part of the Host Family Association, so that you receive correspondence and updates from the organization.