Short History of 211 in Ontario

October 09, 2013

211 Launches in the United States
In 1997, Atlanta, Georgia became the first community to introduce 211 service.

CRTC Approves 211 Number
In response to an application by United Way of Canada – Centraide Canada and its partners, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) assigned information and referral about community, social, health and government services to the 2-1-1 number.

211 Launches in Toronto
Toronto 211 launched for those living in the 416 and 647 area codes. The City of Toronto and the United Way of Toronto provided funding for 211 Toronto. Over 9000 organizations were listed in the database.

Ontario Trillium Foundation Long Time Supporter of 211 Vision

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) has provided over $1.9 million since 2002 to help develop 211 in Ontario. 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 the Francophone community.

Province of Ontario Supports 211
The Province provided the United Ways of Ontario with $1.4 million to expand the network of 211 service providers from three sites to eight sites. The Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Community and Social Services also provided $3 million to develop the database of 56,000 agencies and services that form the core of 211’s website.

Ontario 211 Services Corporation Incorporated
Ontario 211 Services Corporation was incorporated in early 2007 with a mission to develop, sustain and improve an integrated Ontario 211 system. A non-profit organization, Ontario 211 Services Corporation is governed by a volunteer board drawn from across Ontario.

Province announces funding for 211 in Poverty Reduction Strategy
Provincial budget sets aside more than $13 million over four years to expand 211’s capacity to reach all Ontarians. Also, in the same year, 211 was identified by the province in the provincial Poverty Reduction Strategy. As part of that strategy, the province committed on-going funding of $4 million per year to sustain 211 for all Ontarians, starting 2012.

In December, 211 service is available everywhere in Ontario.