What is 211?

What is 211?

211 is the information and referral service that provides the people of Ontario with reliable information on community and social services. When you dial the 211 hotline, you are connected with a Certified Information and Referral Specialist who has been trained to assess your needs, answer your questions accurately, and advise you about the services and programs that are best for you and your loved ones.

What is 211ontario.ca?

211Ontario.ca is your connection to information about community and social services in the province of Ontario. It is your first stop for information about child care, language classes, job searches, housing, emergency shelters, services for persons with disabilities, home support, legal assistance, financial assistance, and much more.

Most of the services listed on 211Ontario.ca are provided by non-profit, community-based or government organizations that provide a direct service to the public. However, you will find some private or commercial organizations that do not duplicate the work of non-profit, community and government organizations. Inclusion on 211Ontario.ca is free.

211Ontario.ca provides accurate and up-to-date information about services in a consistent format. Information on 211Ontario.ca is updated on an ongoing basis, and changes are verified with a spokesperson from each organization or program.

Is 211 available where I live?

Our goal is to provide 211 telephone service to every part of Ontario by the end of 2011. At present, 211 phone service is available in the following regions and municipalities: Addington, Algoma, Bruce, Durham, Frontenac, Grey, Haliburton, Halton, Hamilton, Huron, Kawartha Lakes, Kingston, Muskoka, Niagara, Northumberland, Lennox, Ottawa, Oxford, Peel, Perth, Peterborough, Rainy River, Renfrew, Sault Ste. Marie, Simcoe, Thunder Bay, Toronto,Windsor-Essex and York.

Can I trust the information you give me?

Your call to 211’s telephone service will be answered by an Information and Referral Specialist who has been certified by the Alliance of Information and Referral Systems (AIRS). AIRS is the international standards body for information and referral services and the specialists who answer your calls.

Calls to 211 are anonymous and confidential. Your personal identifying information will not be shared with any other parties. Many of the calls we receive deal with sensitive topics and we take your right to privacy very seriously.

The information you receive is updated at least once a year and in many cases more frequently. We receive our information directly from our partner agencies and services and we take great care to ensure its accuracy.

In 2010, an independent survey of 211 phone service users revealed that 89 percent of callers reported they were very satisfied with their experience and 93 percent felt they got the information they needed.

What kind of services can you tell me about?

With information from more than 56,000 services and agencies across the province of Ontario, we are able to provide assistance on a wide range of topics. These include, but are not limited to:

  • abuse (including sexual assault)
  • child and family services
  • consumer protection and complaints
  • emergency and crisis services
  • employment, education and training
  • financial assistance
  • food and clothing
  • general community services
  • government officials
  • health
  • homelessness
  • housing
  • legal issues
  • multicultural associations
  • seniors
  • settlement and newcomer services
  • youth services

Who Funds 211?

211 is supported by a wide variety of organizations. We receive funding from the Province of Ontario, individual municipalities, local Ontario United Ways, the Ontario Trillium Foundation and Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) has provided more than $1.9 million since 2002 to help develop 211 in Ontario. In 2002, the OTF funded a study to examine the capacity of Ontario’s not-for-profit information services to deliver 211 in Ontario and how it could be done. It has also supported the development of 211 in several communities and helped 211 develop services for Ontario’s francophone community.

The Province of Ontario has a strong relationship with 211. In 2006, it provided the Ontario United with $1.4 million to expand 211 from three service providers to eight. The Ministry of Community and Social Services and the Ministry of Finance have provided $3 million to develop the database of 56,000 agencies and services, develop the classification of services, and develop services to meet the needs of francophone users.

The Province of Ontario has set aside more than $13 million over four years to expand 211’s capacity to reach all Ontarians by 2011/2012. As part of the government’s Poverty Reduction Strategy, the province has committed ongoing funding of $4 million per year to sustain 211 for all Ontarians, beginning in 2012.

In 2007, Deloitte proposed a cost-sharing formula for Ontario 211: 60 percent from the provincial government, 20 percent from municipal governments, 10 percent from the federal government, and 10 percent from Ontario’s United Ways and private contributions. Ontario 211 is currently negotiating sector shares with its funding partners.

What is the Ontario 211 Services Corporation?

Ontario 211 Services Corporation (O211SC) was incorporated in 2007 with a mission to develop, sustain and improve an integrated Ontario 211 system. As a not-for-profit agency, it is responsible for licensing of 211 sites, approvals for telephone switching, branding and administering the ongoing provincial contributions as 211 moves to province-wide delivery.

Vision: The vision of O211SC is to become the source for community information and resources throughout Ontario.


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