Participants exchange work hours, working agreements and vacation for the term of the exchange. They do not exchange salaries and each participant will have their own workers compensation coverage. They also pay for their own airfare and other travel expenses. Families exchange accommodations directly or help each other arrange alternative living arrangements.

Accommodations Overview

Applicants can either exchange accommodations directly or work with their exchange partner to arrange alternative housing.

Although every effort is made to match accommodations as close as possible, there is no guarantee that the accommodations will be equal. Applicants who choose to exchange their accommodations should be sure to satisfy themselves (prior to agreeing to exchanging accommodations) that the living accommodations are suitable for the period of the exchange.

Every effort should be made between exchange partners (i.e., photos, videos and lengthy phone conversations) to ensure they are satisfied with the living arrangements and surrounding environment prior to embarking on the exchange.

Exchanging Accommodations

Here are some basic tips and guidelines for exchanging accommodations.

  • Provide your exchange partner with at least the basics: appliances, furnishings and linens
  • Ensure that the house is stocked with a sufficient amount of food upon commencement and completion of the exchange
  • Put any expensive or treasured articles that you are concerned about in storage, or box them in the basement for the duration of the exchange
  • Appoint a friend or relative to assist the exchange partner during the exchange, and deal with any problems in the owner's absence
  • Usually persons exchanging accommodations cover their rent, or mortgage and taxes
  • Utilities are paid by the occupant during the exchange

Note: This program is not about exchanging accommodations, it is about the opportunity to work and live in a different environment.

Alternative Accommodations

If you choose to arrange alternative accommodations, you and your exchange partner can work out any arrangement that is suitable to both parties.

Ensure that you are fully satisfied with the arrangements and are clear on all details before confirming the exchange.

Arranging School for Children

Your exchange partner can assist with school options.

Clothing and Equipment

Both employers agree to provide, on loan, the visiting exchange parties with all of the necessary fire protection equipment and clothing required for the duration of any assigned duty during this exchange period.

Both employers agree to provide the exchange parties with the "standard provision" supplied to all other Firefighters (in the host organization) assigned to similar duties.

Holidays and Leave

As part of the Exchange Agreement you agree to accept the vacation and leave time of the person you are exchanging with. The amount of vacation and leave that each applicant is entitled to with their permanent employer is part of the criteria used in the matching process. Because the start and completion dates of your exchange might conflict with your vacation scheduling, advance consultation between the exchanging parties and the employers is essential to ensure an equal sharing of vacation and leave. The entitlement of each exchange party is no greater than the amount of the member with the least vacation entitlement.


Sick time off will be as per the policies of the host employer.  Most employers require a letter from a physician. Both employers will notify each other at the end of the exchange of any sick time used within the duration of the exchange. If sick time has been taken during the exchange, it will be recorded in your personnel file with your permanent employer.

In extenuating circumstances, sick time can be negotiated between employers if the guest employee encounters an unforeseen illness. Excessive sick time might result in termination from the exchange.

You may be required to provide a medical certificate as part of your visa application certifying that you are in good health (dependent on the country you're exchanging with). Upon the completion of an exchange, a letter will be completed to outline any sickness/WCB and provide the dates of any vacation or leave.

Salaries and Conditions

Exchange participants remain in the employ of their department, retaining their normal rights, privileges and obligations in relation to their employers. They continue to receive their salaries while they are on exchange, with continuing deductions as applicable.

Successful applicants must make their own appropriate financial arrangements and be responsible for their own costs. If the department allows the exchange to work overtime, they must communicate the payment methods with the exchanges.

Note: Exchange rates can fluctuate considerably, and participants must be mindful and need to prepare for this financially.

Personal Vehicle

Exchanging vehicles is not recommended, although the choice is between you and your exchange partner. Insurance and maintenance discrepancies have proven to be a problem on past exchanges.

As an alternative, you and your exchange partner can help each other look for a leased vehicle for the term of the exchange, or you can help each other buy a vehicle.

Exchange participants may need to be flexible with respective insurance premiums. This must be worked out between exchange participants prior to the exchange commencement.


Even though you are still being paid by your permanent employer throughout the duration of the exchange, you may be required to file an income tax form if you have been in a foreign country for a certain period of time. It is your responsibility to investigate this possibility with the revenue department of the country you are exchanging to.

Generally, you will not be expected to pay income tax. Most revenue departments only require that you file a form indicating that your income for the time period of your residency was nil. In many cases it might be in your best interest to check and see if your exchange country offers a tax rebate on Goods and Services Tax incurred by non-residence depending on your length of stay.

Because the travel and moving costs of this program are borne by the applicant and are relative to employment, these costs might be tax deductible. Check with an income tax specialist in Canada for more information.

Workers Compensation and Other Insurance

Original employers must arrange and finalize details of all worker's compensation and other insurance that is deemed necessary to protect their employee during the full term of the fellowship. Insurance to cover all work related injury, illness and death is provided by the home fire service.

Work Visas

You do not require a work visa if you are exchanging within Canada. You need a work visa if you are exchanging outside your own country (although during the exchange your permanent employer is still paying you). In most cases your visa/permit application will require the department confirming that you are being hosted and who your exchange partner will be.

For those coming to Edmonton, an Offer of Employment will be completed by the City of Edmonton and you will be provided with an Offer of Employment number to use when you apply for your work permit.


  • Obtain information on visa requirements from the Embassy or Consulate of the country you wish to exchange to
  • Allow sufficient time to apply for a work visa
  • Do not count on obtaining a work visa for family members unless they are a national citizen of that country