What is 211?
211 is a three-digit phone number like 411 and 911. The CRTC assigns three-digit phone numbers for services that are of broad public interest and of universal social value. The CRTC decision was approved in 2001: Link to CRTC Decision for 211.
211 began in the United States in 1997. As of December 2010, 82% of the US population had access to 211. Visit www.211US.org for more information.
Canada’s first 211 service launched in Toronto in 2002, and is under consideration or development in most provinces. Visit www.211.ca for more information.
211 helps people find services in their community. In Canada, 211 offers live answer service 24/7. The number is free to call and interpreters are available in more than 170 languages. TTY service is available at 1-888-435-6086.
In Ontario, 211 is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Community and Social Services and many municipalities and United Ways.
The History of Community Connection and 211
Community Connection, a charitable organization located in Collingwood is the designated 211 service provider for Central East Ontario which includes Bruce, Grey, Huron, Perth, Simcoe, Muskoka, Parry Sound, Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes, Peterborough and Northumberland - a population of about 1.2 million people.
In November 2005, the 211 service pilot was launched to a portion of Simcoe County known as South Georgian Bay, a population of approximately 48,000 people.
In 2007, a two-year Ontario Trillium Foundation grant supported ongoing operations for the Collingwood service and its expansion to North Simcoe County, bringing the total population served to 110,000 people.
In 2008, a financial commitment from the County of Simcoe supported further expansion to all of Simcoe County; 211 Muskoka was launched in November 2008 in partnership with the District & the Muskoka Healthy Communities Committee which brought the population served to 480,000.
In 2009, 211 service expanded again to an additional 87,620 residents of Bruce and Grey Counties, with financial support from both the United Way and the Counties of Bruce and Grey.
Further expansion in 2009 to Northumberland and Peterborough was supported by the United Ways of Northumberland and Peterborough, bringing the total population served in the Central East region to 853,380 people.
In September 2009, an expansion to the City of Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton County was sponsored by the United Way of Kawartha Lakes and brought the population served to 950,000.
The launch of 211 to Perth and Huron Counties in June 2010, supported by the United Way of Perth Huron brought the total population served in Central East to about 1.1 million.
211 service to the District of Parry Sound was launched in the fall of 2011, completely Community Connection's expansion to Central East Ontario.
The Development of 211 in Ontario
Seven regional service partners located in Toronto, St. Catharines, Collingwood, Windsor, Thunder Bay, Ottawa and Brampton completed expansion to all of Ontario at the end of 2011.
www.211Ontario.ca offers a bilingual, province-wide, online directory of human services. Initial work on the site was the result of a $3 million dollar investment by the Ministry of Finance.
The Ontario 211 Services Corporation was incorporated in January 2008. It has formalized its structure and continues to build its capacity to provide leadership and accountability for the development of the 211 Ontario system.
In 2008, the Ministry of Community and Social Services announced a four-year commitment of over $13 million dollars to expand 211 across Ontario. In the 2009 report on Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, 211 was highlighted as one of the government’s success stories and announced an annual $4 million commitment. The system is expected to receive multi-sector funding from the Province, Municipalities and United Ways. Federal funding would support interoperability between provinces/territories.
Since 2002, the Ontario Trillium Foundation has provided more than 1.9 million dollars helping to move 211 closer to its goal to provide service to all Ontarians by 2011.
Over $10M of public and community investments in infrastructure projects have contributed to the 211 Ontario system now in development. The Ontario Trillium Foundation, the McConnell Foundation, and the Honderich Family Foundation have made contributions. The federal government has participated through funding from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and Citizenship and Immigration Canada, while the Province’s Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and Ministry of Finance, and MCSS have made substantial investments.