THE ROUNDUP – Human Services Sector News in Ontario. Issue 1. January 2021.

Welcome to our new newsletter (replacing “The 211 on Social Services” newsletter)! We hope these snippets of information are useful to those working in human services in Ontario, and we encourage you to share with your colleagues and peers! Of note, there is an option to subscribe or unsubscribe in every newsletter.

We are also always happy to receive feedback and content suggestions. To share a story or news item for future newsletters, please contact Destiny Bedwell, Communications and Marketing Coordinator, Ontario 211 Services at Our newsletter will be delivered on a monthly basis, as we recognize the sector is changing and adapting quickly. Happy reading and as always, wishing you and yours good health.


211 Ontario News

Our Six-month Report on Covid: Connection in a Time of Isolation.

Learn how 211 jumped into action, the demands for services which increased, what happens when you call 211 and how we go above and beyond for callers. We have also tracked Ontario residents needs and the unmet needs, how we got the message out about 211, the partnerships that were forged to meet a community’s needs, real caller stories and what 211 is expecting looking ahead. Read our report here.

Read Our 2019-2020 Annual Report.

At 211 Ontario, the work we do is all about connection. We connect Ontario residents with the programs and services they need. We develop partnerships to improve the well-being of the Ontario residents, and we provide information to decision-makers to help them work toward ensuring supports are available where they’re needed. Read our annual report here.

An Overview of 211 in Ontario

If you are unfamiliar with the 211 helpline, watch this 14 minute video which provides an overview for those working in human services: (Provided in English only).

Partner: Ample Labs

Ample Labs, several partners and 211 Ontario have partnered to help bring the Chalmers chatbot for the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless to several communities.  Learn more about the Chalmers bot and 211 Data here: (Provided in English only).

211 Service Goes Nationwide with Funding from The Government of Canada

As part of its COVID-19 response, the Government of Canada provided funding to United Way Centraide Canada to increase the capacity and expand access to 211 services for all Canadian residents. Existing 211 services across Canada saw a dramatic increase in the number of people reaching out for help during the first wave. Overall, calls and website visits to existing 211 services increased by 31% and 45%, respectively, in the March to August timeframe. See media release here.


Resources for the Sector

Emergency Food Security Fund

In October 2020, the Government of Canada announced an additional $100 million to support food security. Funds are to purchase food and other basic necessities, buy or rent equipment and materials, transport and distribute food, access new distribution centres, hire temporary help to fill volunteer shortages and implement biosecurity measures. The Government is working with national and regional agencies with established networks and distribution systems for food aid. Five organizations are were selected to expand beyond their normal networks to reach all Canadians as widely as possible: Food Banks Canada, Second Harvest, Community Food Centres Canada, Breakfast Club of Canada and Salvation Army. Organizations seeking assistance should reach out to the five organizations to obtain emergency aid. See link for each organization’s contact info.

BCCDC COVID-19 language guide: Guidelines for inclusive language for written and digital content

These guidelines from the BC Centre for Disease Control provide guidance on using inclusive and non-stigmatizing language for COVID-19 written and digital communications. They also offer examples of preferred language choices in multiple areas, including the following: disease basics, racial identities, substance use, gender, sexual identity and family status.

Launch of in-kind platform for business and people to support community organizations

Canadian philanthropists have launched a global in-kind campaign and technology platform to make it easy for businesses and people to give to community organizations donations of time, services and goods known as “Project In-Kind”.  Community organizations in need can ask for non-cash support on the platform. In turn, companies, and people with resources to give can easily support these organizations by pledging their support and then delivering their resources. To learn more and get involved, visit the following link for charities and non-profits.

Ontario Nonprofit Network is helping non-profits adapt and respond to covid

Ontario Nonprofit Network is curating and developing resources for non-profits during the pandemic. Visit this page for more information.

Youth Teaching Adults provides free resources for teaching adults digital literacy skill.

Youth Teaching Adults is a free introductory digital literacy program for adult learners led by youth volunteer tutors. The program is a collaboration between ABC Life Literacy Canada (ABC) and Youth Empowering Parents (YEP). Workshops can be in person or virtual and ABC will provide you with online training, lesson plans and other helpful resources. The program is highly flexible and adult learners choose what they want to learn. All workshop materials are available online. With over 50 lesson plans to choose from, adults can learn how to use social media, navigate a smartphone or set up email.

Toronto Inner-City Rugby Foundation (TIRF) Launches Everyone’s Game, a Diversity-driven Initiative to Establish Inclusive Athletic Communities Across Canada

Everyone’s Game equips coaches, facilitators and stakeholders with the skills and resources necessary to help young athletes overcome the barriers of participation.  It was created using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as a guiding principle and inspired by the Sports and Recreation Council and Canadian Parks & Recreation Association (CPRA) report: The Framework for Recreation in Canada. Three out of the five goals: active listening, inclusion and access, and supportive environments are implemented in the Everyone’s Game toolkit.

Ontario Job Creation Partnerships

Designed to help individuals gain new skills and meaningful work experience that benefit the participant and community. Sponsors for individuals can be not-for-profits, municipalities, Indigenous councils, public health and educational institutions and businesses. Financial assistance will vary depending on the project scope, duration, participant activities, and contributions from the sponsor and other partners. For more information for participants and sponsor application guide, visit here.

The 25 Click Family Law Portal from Ryerson’s Legal Innovation Zone

For agencies working with couples, there is a new tool to help clients who are separating or getting a divorce. Designed to be consumer-friendly and efficient; this portal is the Legal Innovation Zone’s way of driving innovation in family law. The 25 Clicks version of the portal takes Ontarians through the key decisions and issues they have to think about when they are separating or getting a divorce in about 20 minutes. There is also a family law portal at same link which provides a more in-depth guide., Kids Help Phone and School Mental Health Ontario partner to provide resources, School Mental Health Ontario and Kids Help Phone have launched a COVID-19 Mental Health Resource Hub, to provide Canada’s youth with easy-to-access education, tools, support and the reliable information they need during the pandemic, all in one place. For more information, or to access the COVID-19 Mental Health Resource Hub, visit The Covid-19 Mental Health Resource Hub consists of multimedia; featuring downloadable PDFs, social media posts, and videos, as well as direct links to support services, apps and resources that promote self-care and social connection.

#RisingYouth Community Service Grants

#RisingYouth is a program led by TakingITGlobal to help youth build Canada and develop life skills by giving back to their communities. Created for youth by youth, they are building a program to increase involvement through community service. The program is currently funded to offer grants through March 2021. More info click here.

How One Program Pivoted During Covid

YouTube Videos from Social Services

Ready2Work: Development of A User-Informed Online Employment Platform for Job Seekers with Autism

Access Team: Building One Door to Service by CHEO

CX Heroes: Meet CX Hero Kate Kuehn with Crisis Service Canada | Genesys

Digital Platforms and Violence Against Women: User Experiences, Best Practices and the Law by VAW Learning Network

Toronto Coalition. Week 10.- Resilience and Reconciliation: Covid and Indigenous Toronto


Social Services News in the Media  (In English only)

Feed Ontario releases the Hunger Report every year. This report is based on real-time data gathered by the provincial food bank network and provides an analysis of current trends related to poverty and food bank use across the province. See report here.

New Toronto Foundation report reveals the devastating toll of COVID-19 ripple effects on Toronto. The Toronto Fallout Report also shares insights from Toronto community leaders on an equitable recovery.

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