Image: Alex Arsenault
Image: Alex Arsenault
Great white north: From thrilling outdoor activities and beautiful scenery such as Moraine Lake (above centre) to action-packed sports and vibrant cities, Canada has something for everyone
winter tyres. Local Overseas Allowance helps to offset some of these costs. Jobs can be difficult to get due to the remoteness of Ralston and many spouses with children struggle to work because of their soldier’s commitments. Families in Medicine Hat have more opportunities based purely on location.
Many of you have found ways around it by becoming selfemployed or working remotely. Annette Falinski, who runs a holistic therapy business, said: “It gives me the opportunity to stay busy. Although it takes time to build a client base, I’m happy that people are enjoying what I do.” Claire Short, another selfemployed spouse, added: “AFF helped us to secure the 30 hours of funded childcare we would have been entitled to in the UK, which has enabled me to continue my business, maintain my www.armyandyou.co.uk
professional development and work flexibly.” Some job opportunities are on offer at local schools and nurseries. If this is something you’re interested in, try to get your full visa sorted before you come to Canada as it can be a lengthy process.
What about schools?
Canada follows a different curriculum to the UK and there are some limitations with support for children with special educational needs. In Ralston, the Canadian school has two SCE teachers to help bridge any gaps between the two systems. In Medicine Hat, Service children attend Canadian schools. If you have secondary schoolaged children, it’s not recommended to enter the Canadian education system. GCSEs are not
possible and distance learning isn’t supported. As with all overseas assignments, older children (18-24) are not classed as ‘entitled family members’ unless they’re in full-time education. Some families have brought older children here but visas, flights and healthcare costs are your own responsibility.
rescuing off the piste.
How do I access healthcare?
It’s almost the same as being in the UK – you go to your GP or medical officer and, if you need to be seen by a specialist, you’re either referred in Canada or back to the UK. Families have access to Alberta healthcare insurance, but this doesn’t cover you out of province or for extreme sports such as skiing, so make sure you have additional cover in case you need
Keeping in touch
Living in a different time zone, seven hours behind the UK, means chatting to friends and family needs to be planned. Your GYH(O) allowance helps with flights back home and many families use it during the long ten-week school holidays.
Winter sports are a huge attraction. From skiing to skating, everyone gets involved somehow. There are subsidised rates for most recreation facilities including swimming pools and gyms. Canada is a mixed bag of positives and negatives and it’s important to consider all aspects of family life before a posting. You’ll find your local AFF Co-ordinator, Liz Ellwood, at community events, or you can contact her by email at email@example.com & spring 2019 Army&You 49