If you have an emergency you can call 911, but often times people don’t have an emergency but still need help. That’s where 211 comes in.
The phone service was brought to Ontario in 2001 and the service rolled into Sault Ste. Marie in 2009 and the district in 2011.
February 11 is 2-1-1 Day across North America. To mark this day, 211 Ontario helpline is asking residents to make the right call if they want or need help.
Knowing the right number to call will help people find the right services for their situation and will help reduce non-urgent calls to 911.
“211 has rapidly become an essential community service across Ontario. It’s the easiest and fastest way for our community’s most vulnerable, and those who care for them, to connect to social, health and government services,” said Andrew Benson, Executive Director of Ontario 211.
211 is answered live, 24 hours a day, every day of the year including holidays. Residents can call 2-1-1 for information on community, social and health services, as well as municipal, provincial and federally-funded services like housing, employment and mental health and addiction agencies. Residents can also call 2-1-1 for services like food banks or for the non-emergency police number.
Maureen Dodd from the Sault Ste. Marie United Way, who hosts the service locally tells SaultOnline.com that the service is catching on. “There’s still some calls coming in for 911 type of emergencies, it comes down to educating the public about what 211 is”
“211 is a valuable resource for Ontarians, and for police. 211 calls are answered by highly-trained specialists who know our community services and can refer callers to support near them. When residents make the right call, they help ensure 911 agents can focus on emergency situations and help save lives,” said Staff Sergeant Baldassare Nuccio, Acting Detachment Commander of the Sault Ste. Marie Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).
Residents should always call 9-1-1 for life-threatening emergencies or crimes in progress that require police, fire or paramedic services.
“211 is Canada’s one-stop-shop to connect to services that are often provided by charities and non-profits — partners who cannot afford to publicize their numbers and rely on 211 to reach the community,” said Dr. Jacline Nyman, President and CEO, United Way Canada.
When people don’t know where to turn, 211 is there for them.