Covid-19 FAQ

EXCHANGES

Our exchange is postponed due to the global pandemic. When can I start rebooking?

In the coming weeks, as more information is made available from the Public Health Agency of Canada, Experiences Canada will be contacting all postponed participating groups, and will be seeking out their new travel dates. Although we cannot predict the future, we are hoping to start working with groups in August to rebook travels in October at the earliest. If necessary, groups will have the opportunity to reconsider cancellation at this time. This applies to confirmed group projects only. For more detailed rules or questions specific to your group, please contact your Experiences Canada coordinator.

Our exchange is postponed and some of the students will be moving on to new schools. What should I do?

We share in the disappointment that some youth are facing due to their exchange plans being put on hold or cancelled. In a case when a youth is moving on to a new school, or moving away from your community, an individual participant may be replaced free of charge with a new student. Simply contact your Experiences Canada coordinator to finalize the switch.

Our exchange was postponed on the expectation we might be able to travel later this summer, or because cancellation charges were not refundable at the time we made our decision. What if we now want to cancel our exchange?

Since our last advisory notice in March 2020, our partner airlines have updated their policies. Generally, groups may now chose to cancel outright their travel reservations at no additional costs. For more detailed rules or questions specific to your group, please contact your Experiences Canada coordinator.

Our school cancelled our exchange due to the global pandemic. Can I apply for a refund of participation fees?

Experiences Canada is working hard with stakeholders including our partner airlines and Funders to minimize the costs when postponing or canceling an exchange. Our Administration team will be contacting group organizers of all affected exchanges to reconcile eligible participant fee refunds, with advances for ground transportation and special measures that may have been paid to them.  Groups should expect to hear from us by the end of April.  This only applies to groups with cancelled travel plans.

I applied for an exchange in Summer - Fall 2020. When will I hear back if my application is successful?

The safety and health of our participants is our priority.  Subject to further travel advisories and recommendations from the Public Health Agency of Canada, we are hoping to start reviewing applications in August, for travel in January 2021 at the earliest. We will provide updates on our website and through our newsletter as we have them.

I am interested in applying for an exchange. When can I apply?

Experiences Canada remains open for applications now! We encourage groups to apply as early as possible so we have more time to find them a suitable twin. Groups are under no obligation to travel and no participant fees are charged until an exchange offer is accepted. Subject to further travel advisories and recommendations from the Public Health Agency of Canada, we are hoping to start reviewing applications in August, for travel in January 2021 at the earliest. We will provide updates on our website and through our newsletter as we have them.

There are some concerns that the virus may continue to spread in waves throughout the next year. What additional precautions will Experiences Canada take to protect the health and safety of youth?

Experiences Canada takes the health, safety and security of their participants and volunteers very seriously. We will not be organizing any travel unless public health officials deem it safe to do so.

Although no one could have anticipated the magnitude of the outbreak, when news of the coronavirus in Canada emerged early in the New Year, we actively engaged in conversations with program partners, public health officials and our board of directors.

We have all learned a lot in just a short amount of time and will be reviewing our public health and safety protocols over the summer months and communicating these new protocols with group organizers.  During exchanges, we will be working with program partners and group organizers, to ensure we continue with recommended public health and safety practices, such as proper handwashing and sanitizing of high traffic surfaces, with special care being taken when visiting areas with vulnerable populations.

How will Experiences Canada ensure all participants are healthy while on exchange?

All youth participants are required to complete a medical history and treatment release form prior to the exchange.  The form is strictly confidential and is used only to ensure the safety of all participants in the exchange and allow staff to plan beforehand on ways to best handle any indicated special needs.

We routinely encourage parents of any participant who is ill or has a contagion to consider the safety of others and keep them at home.  We will waive the cancellation fees for those families who chose to withdraw their youth from the program due to medical illness.

Experiences Canada will also follow any additional guidelines and protocols offered by the Public Health Agency of Canada for group gatherings of this nature including hand-washing, social/physical distancing, and frequent disinfection of high traffic surfaces and spaces.

What will Experiences Canada do in the event an immunocompromised youth wished to participate in an exchange?

Our exchanges program is run on the basis of being inclusive to all youth who wish to attend. If an immunocompromised youth wishes to participate, we would work directly with the youth and their family to review activity plans, develop extra protocols and measures to help minimize risks, and help them make an informed decision about whether or not the youth should attend. 

While we will take every step we can to accommodate their needs, and can control a certain number of variables, some elements are out of our control and knowing the full extent of the youth’s needs will be important to best ensure this is a healthy and inclusive experience. 

What if I have other questions?

Experiences Canada staff are available Monday through Friday from 8:30am-4:30pm (Eastern Standard Time) to answer any and all of your questions. 

Phone: 1-800-387-3832 
Email: INFO@EXPERIENCESCANADA.CA

YOUTH LEADERSHIP FORUM

Why didn’t you consider alternate options for hosting the Youth Leadership Forum on Reconciliation?

The unique programing style of our forum does not lend itself to an online format since so much of it is about hands on experiences, and visiting different communities and organizations. It puts participants, staff and volunteers in close proximity to each other, program partners and the general public.

While we cannot offer this unique experience online, we are currently exploring other virtual programing and activities we can offer youth during the months ahead.  As a start, we have recently launched a set of social media challenges to encourage exchange and alumni students unable to travel this year to share their favorite destinations in their own community and across Canada. You can find these through our feeds on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Moving the forum forward a full year ensures sufficient time for Public Health Authorities to work on creating vaccines, cures and safety measures that will ensure the health of all Canadians. As more information becomes available on COVID-19 we will be able to create plans that will ensure our forum will be able to proceed in a similarly captivating way as we have done in the past.  As more details are confirmed, we will post updates to our website and social media feeds.

What happens to the youth applications you have already received?

We will be rerunning the application process in the new school year.  We will contact all youth who have registered on our website whether they have completed their submissions or not to advise of the postponement and invite them to either withdraw their submissions if they’d like to work on them further, or alternatively to leave them in the system for consideration when a new deadline for application is set.

What if a youth applicant was in their last year of high school or turning 18 years of age? Will they still be eligible to be considered for next year’s event?

This program accepts all youth applicants regardless of their academic status.  Youth are not required to be enrolled in a high school.  We will allow anyone with an application currently in the system to continue to be considered for selection next year if they so choose.  However, the age guideline will remain in place for any new applications.

What precautions will Experiences Canada take to protect the health and safety of youth while in Winnipeg?

Experiences Canada takes the health, safety and security of their participants and volunteers very seriously. With over 80 years of history delivering travel and exchange programs, we have a proven track record for putting the safety of our youth participants first. Since 2017, we have successfully held 6 youth forums across the country with over 400 youth aged 14-18 participating. The youth at each forum were led by youth leaders aged 21-30, trained and chosen for their unique abilities and experiences.

Although no one could have anticipated the magnitude of the outbreak, when news of the coronavirus in Canada emerged early in the New Year, we actively engaged in conversations with program partners, Public Health Officials and our board of directors.

We have all learned a lot in just a short amount of time.  We will continue with recommended public health and safety practices, working with our accommodation and transportation partners, to ensure enough handwashing and sanitizing supplies are available in all bathrooms, rooms and transportation vehicles being used by our staff, participants and volunteers. Reminders before and after meals, activities and outings will be given to ensure everyone is not spreading any virus. Disinfectant will be used on all surfaces being used for activities, with special care being taken when visiting areas with vulnerable populations.

There are some concerns that the virus may continue to spread in waves throughout the next year. How confident are you that the Youth Leadership Forum on Reconciliation can even proceeded next year?

Postponing the Forum for fully one year is the first step Experiences Canada is taking to prevent the spread of the virus.  While no one can predict the future, we do know there will be a time when young Canadians can come together again, and we want to be ready to help them resume these important gatherings that help them to better understand their country and to grow as individuals. 

We are all learning about better public health practices as a result of this crisis, and we fully anticipate that our policies and procedures will change to reflect that knowledge and learning.  As more information is released by the Public Health Agency of Canada, measures they recommend will be put into place for all of our future events.

Working with our Program Partners and local public health authorities, ensuring we do not reintroduce or spread the virus to unaffected and possibly vulnerable areas will be a priority.

How will Experiences Canada ensure all participants are healthy to participate in the Forum?

Youth chosen to participate or be a leader are sent a medical treatment release form attesting to their health with space to provide clarification on how to meet their medical needs. The form is strictly confidential and is used only to ensure the safety of all participants in the forum and allows staff to plan beforehand on ways to best handle any indicated special needs.

We routinely encourage parents of any participant who is ill or has a contagion to consider the safety of others and keep them at home.  We will waive the cancellation fees for those families who chose to withdraw their youth from the program due to medical illness.

Experiences Canada will also follow any guidelines and protocols offered by the Public Health Agency of Canada for group gatherings of this nature including hand-washing, social/physical distancing, and frequent disinfection of high traffic surfaces and spaces.

What will Experiences Canada do in the event an immunocompromised youth wished to participate in the Youth Leadership Forum on Reconciliation?

Our Youth Leadership Forum is run on the basis of being inclusive to all youth who wish to attend. If an immunocompromised youth wishes to participate, we would work directly with the youth and their family to review activity plans, develop extra protocols and measures to help minimize risks, and help them make an informed decision about whether or not the youth should attend. 

While we will take every step we can to accommodate their needs, and can control a certain number of variables, some elements are out of our control and knowing the full extent of the youth’s needs will be important to best ensure this is a healthy and inclusive experience.  

What if I have other questions?

Experiences Canada staff are available Monday through Friday from 8:30am-4:30pm (Eastern Standard Time) to answer any and all of your questions. 

Phone: 1-800-387-3832 
Email: INFO@EXPERIENCESCANADA.CA

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