Help Starts Here This Winter 2016

The winter months can cause both financial and emotional stress, especially for people living on a low income or coping with a change in their circumstances. Calling 2-1-1 is the easy way to access financial, emotional and other supports in Ontario communities this winter.

Community Volunteer Tax Clinics, offering low-income individuals and families help to file their taxes.

Financial support with utility bills, keeping heat on for families during the cold months of winter.

Holiday toy programs, helping all children experience the joys of the holiday season.

Holiday meals and gift baskets to combat the hunger and isolation that winter and poverty can bring.

Out of the Cold programs, providing hot meals and/or beds to the homeless and hungry.

Snow removal for seniors and people with disabilities.

Winter coats and boots for children, to keep them warm through the cold of winter.

Support for the homeless, including winter clothing, boots, sleeping bags and care kits.

Meals on Wheels and transportation assistance for seniors and those with disabilities, helping them eat enough food through the winter and make it to critical medical appointments in any weather.

Friendly visits and calls for seniors, keeping them connected and providing cheer during the holidays.

Recreation opportunities, providing ways to make friends, get active and reduce isolation.

Mental health programs, including distress lines, crisis programs, support groups and more.

Internet phone users can call toll-free 1-877-330-3213, and TTY users can call 1-888-340-1001.


Through their Front Line Care strategy, Green Shield Canada (GSC) has invested $1M over three years to help build 211’s capacity to “open doors to better health” by connecting Canadians to programs and services that address the social determinants of health. Ontario 211 Services is the lead partner in the project, working closely with United Way Canada and Findhelp Information Services, as well as all of the 211 Service Partners in Ontario and in the rest of Canada. The GSC investment is furthering 211’s work in offering to follow up with vulnerable clients, awareness raising, agency outreach, internal education and training, and research and evaluation. In the fall of 2016 Green Shield Canada, United Ways and 211Ontario are launching an online media campaign called “Help Starts Here” to raise awareness about the usefulness of 211 in helping people navigate services. The focus is especially people stressed by the demands of the cold winter and holiday season and the expectations to spend money they may not have.  A digitally animated 4 minute YouTube video intended for all healthcare providers is also being launched and is now available to embed on websites, show in waiting rooms, share with clients etc. The video, which is available in English and French, is an entertaining and informative resource for all helping professions, e.g. doctors, nurse practitioners, social workers, nurses, physiotherapists, midwives, personal support workers, carers, speech therapists, paramedics etc.  We are grateful for the generous support of Green Shield in this important work.

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