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Frequently Asked Questions for Homestay Families

October 24, 2023
WSD International students enjoying Canadian culture and fun activities

Potential homestay families have questions about hosting an international student.  Please find some answers to common questions below. 

Click here to access the Homestay Family Application

Q: Who can host a student?

A: Our homestay families have different cultural backgrounds and lifestyles. Some homestay families are traditional two-parent families, while others are single-parent families, couples or individuals with no children, or even older couples with grown children who don’t live at home anymore. If you are over the age of 25, have an extra bedroom, and are passionate about Winnipeg, you can host!

Q: From what countries do the students come? 

A: Students join WSD International from around the world. Most come from Brazil, Chile, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, and Vietnam.

Q: Which schools do the students attend? 

A: WSD International students attend high schools throughout the Division. Most of our students attend Collège Churchill High School, Daniel McIntyre Collegiate Institute, Grant Park High School, École Secondaire Kelvin High School and École Sisler High School.

Q: How old are the students? 

A: Most of our students are between the ages of 14 and 18. Some students apply at 12 and 13 years and an underage stipend will be applied.

Q: How long do students attend our schools? 

A: Students attend WSD schools for either a semester (four to five months) or a full year. It's common for international students to attend these schools for multiple years and live with the same family throughout their studies. The homestay family gets to decide how long a student can stay with them.

Q: Why do students attend high school in Canada and in Winnipeg? 

A: Canada's public education system is highly regarded globally for its quality and accessibility. The country has a reputation for being safe and welcoming, offering a high standard of living to its residents. Winnipeg School Division is a preferred destination for international students who are eager to prepare for higher education in Canada, learn about the Canadian way of life and values, and enhance their language abilities. These students are curious, adventurous, and contribute significantly to our school and community.

Q: What must homestay families provide?

A: Homestay families act as caring parents and treat the international students living in their homes as family members.  Homestay families provide three nutritious meals per day plus appropriate snacks. Generally, this means that students will have supper with families regularly. (This also offers the opportunity to talk to each other and to learn from each other!)   Each family operates a little differently regarding breakfast and lunch, and students will often need help understanding the expectations around meals at the beginning of their time in Winnipeg. 

Homestay families provide international students with accommodation, including a private bedroom with a bed, linens and towels, a desk, chair and lamp for private study, and a dresser and closet to store their clothing. Students must have access to a bathroom (it does not need to be a private bathroom.)  We prefer a student’s bedroom to be on the main or upper floor, but depending on the home, some students may be comfortable in a basement bedroom. All windows must meet the building requirements for egress or emergency exit.

Laundry facilities must be provided; families will have different comfort levels with this!  Some homestay families are happy to do the laundry for a student; others will expect the student to wash their own clothing.  

High-speed Wi-Fi access must be provided.  Homes must be equipped with a working smoke detector and a fire extinguisher.  We recommend that homes be equipped with a carbon monoxide detector.

Q: What are homestay families’ responsibilities? 

A: Homestays should treat their students as family members, rather than mere guests. A good analogy would be to care for them as if they were one's niece or nephew, providing a healthy and conducive home environment. Homestays should set appropriate house rules, including curfew times that are suitable for the student’s age, well-being, and development. Additionally, homestays should ensure that the student receives timely and appropriate medical attention, and in cases where immediate medical attention is necessary, it should be provided promptly.

Q: What role do homestay families play in academics?

A: Students join WSD International to attend school. It is important that families provide an environment conducive to homework completion and studying.  Homestay families are not responsible for the students’ “School Life,” which means Homestay families do not attend parent-teacher interviews, receive report cards, or communicate with school staff. Homestay families verify a student’s absence, for example, when a student is ill and cannot attend school. If any questions or concerns regarding school arise, homestays work with the Program by contacting WSD’s Homestay Administrator. 

Q: How are students placed with a family?

A: Homestay placements are made and finalized on mutual agreement between the Homestay Administrator and the homestay family. During the placement process, the personal preferences of both students and families are taken into account, including personal interests and allergies. If a family requests a male or female student, this preference will be considered. In addition, proximity to the school is a key factor in finalizing a homestay placement. Ideally, homestay families should live no more than a 30-minute bus ride from the student's school and no more than 2 buses away.

Q: What about food or special diets? 

A: A student's dietary needs are determined before they arrive in Canada. This is part of the "matching" process to ensure that a family can accommodate a student who is a vegetarian or has specific allergies. If a student's food preferences are different from the homestay family's, WSD homestay support will help find a solution.

Q: With what chores/household duties are the students expected to help?

A: Students are expected to contribute to maintaining the household as any member of the family. Students are not expected to perform duties such as babysitting, dog walking, snow shovelling,  general labour, etc.  

Q: Can I take my student to the cabin or to the family farm?

A: This is encouraged! It is necessary for the homestay family to submit a travel form for all overnight student travel outside of Winnipeg. Adequate notice of a minimum of two business days must be provided if documents are required for travel, including travel to a cottage or a relative’s home. Always check with the Program before planning to travel to the United States. Some students’ study permits and visa conditions may prevent them from travelling outside of Canada.

Q: What rules do the students have to follow? 

A: It is mandatory for students to attend school full-time. Regardless of their age, students are strictly prohibited from purchasing or using alcohol, cannabis products, or illegal drugs. It is also not allowed for them to operate a motor vehicle or any form of motorized transportation, including watercraft, snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle. This rule applies to taking Driver’s Education as well.

Q: What assistance does WSD International provide?

A: WSD International offers assistance to both students and homestay families in resolving issues such as conflict, homesickness, acculturation, and settling in. Homestay families are provided with regular communication and updates, including a pre-arrival orientation. Assistance is available during business hours by telephone and email, and a WSD International team member is always available in case of emergencies after hours and on weekends.

Q: Do families drive the students to school?

A: In general, students are expected to either walk or use public transit to get to school. However, if someone offers them a ride, students are unlikely to decline, especially during cold weather. It's important for families to help new students learn how to use local public transit and purchase transit tickets or a Peggo card. Students are responsible for paying for their transit passes. Occasionally, families may transport students to extracurricular activities in the evening or on weekends. However, families may not charge extra fees for driving a student to school.

Q: For what should homestay families pay? 

It is expected that students will purchase their own winter clothing and school supplies. While some families may provide extra mittens or boots, this is not a requirement. 

When families go out to eat together, the host family should cover the cost of the student's meal. However, when students go out with friends, they are responsible for paying for their own meals or snacks. 

There are many places and attractions in Winnipeg that families can visit with their international students, which are either free or reasonably priced. This allows families to experience Winnipeg through the eyes of their students. To avoid any confusion, it is best to confirm who will be responsible for paying for events and outings ahead of time.

Q: Can homestays travel or be away for the night?

A: Students cannot be left alone overnight, regardless of their age. Families are asked to avoid making travel/holiday plans that interfere with a specific hosting commitment and to advise WSD immediately of any need to relocate a student to a respite host temporarily.

Q: Do students’ family members visit them?

A: Sometimes, the family members of students travel to Canada to visit them in Winnipeg or other parts of the country. If a student is expecting visitors, their family is expected to inform the Program. It's important to note that all visitors are responsible for arranging their own accommodations and entertainment.

Q: Do homestay families need special home insurance?

A: Adequate home and liability insurance, including third-party liability insurance to cover an international student living in the home, should be maintained.

Q: What if homestay families encounter conflict with their students? 

A: Families agree to a period of study and may experience discomfort when hosting a stranger. The Homestay Administrator will support both parties during this adjustment.

Q: How are homestay families reimbursed?

A: Hosting an international student comes with a monthly stipend for the host family to cover the expenses incurred. This stipend is directly deposited at the end of each month. It's important to note that homestay families are not considered employees of the Winnipeg School Division (WSD) and thus, T-slips for income declaration purposes are not automatically issued by WSD. However, WSD is obligated to report the reimbursement payments made to homestay families to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) upon request. If you have any questions regarding hosting and the CRA, we encourage you to consult tax professionals. Additionally, T-slips can be issued upon request.

For more information, please email

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