211 helps Ontario residents navigate complex services: health and legal supports

Toronto – Ontario 211, the province’s go-to number to connect to health, community and social services, has released its 2016 caller statistics. The numbers show that more than 335,000 calls for non-emergency help were answered by 211 across the province last year. Its website received over half a million visits.

On 211 Day, when 211 and its partners raise awareness about 211, 211 is launching a greatly improved website using modern search capabilities. This new search functionality also allows community organizations to embed a 211 search box on their own website to make finding local community, government and health services easier than ever.

“The new 211 website will help more Ontarians find the support they need, quickly and with ease,” said Minister Helena Jaczek. “This website connects people in the province with important information on a wide range of programs from social assistance to mental health, services for those with developmental disabilities to community and family services.”

Looking for health supports, income & social assistance, legal, consumer & public safety questions and community and family services represented 51% of all calls to 211 last year in Ontario. 211’s data provides a view to the mostly invisible social service needs in the province.

“Legal and Health services were the top two reasons people called 211 Ontario in 2016. Our health, social and government services are plentiful, but complex to navigate, and many Ontario residents find it difficult to know where to begin,” said Karen Milligan, Executive Director, Ontario 211 Services.  “We know from a Canadian Institute for Health Information study* in 2015, that 27% of Canadians caregivers who needed help, did not know where to find support. We raise awareness about 211 on February 11th to help people find the support they need, and to reduce inappropriate calls to other channels, such as the 911 phone number.”

Top two calls, number of referrals and examples of types of referrals in the category

LEGAL, CONSUMER AND PUBLIC SAFETY SERVICES
Consumer regulation
Legal services
Law enforcement agencies
Consumer assistance
Law enforcement services
Criminal correction system
Legal assistance

32,522 calls
7918 calls
5579 calls
3006 calls
2761 calls
2527 calls
2253 calls
1971 calls

HEALTH CARE
Health supportive services
Outpatient health services
Inpatient health services
Specialty medicine
Specialized treatment
Social insurance programs
General medical care

29,857 calls
8442 calls
4335 calls
3508 calls
2712 calls
1964 calls
1677 calls
1652 calls

Residents should always call 9-1-1 for a life-threatening emergency, when a property is in danger or a crime is in progress that requires the police, fire or paramedic services.

Calling 2-1-1 is the easy way to access financial, emotional and other supports in Ontario communities this winter. Internet phone users can call 1-877-330-3213, and TTY users can call 1-888-340-1001.

About Ontario 211 & United Way
211 is a three-digit number that helps Ontarians navigate the complex network of human services quickly and easily, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in over 150 languages. Ontario 211 Services is a non-profit agency, established to develop and govern the 211 system in Ontario. The website upgrade was supported by a $260,000 investment by the Ministry of Community and Social Services. 211 is supported by the Province of Ontario and Green Shield Canada, and is a proud partner of United Ways across the province. Through its partnership with 211 and investment in hundreds of community programs, United Way works to improve lives locally.

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Media Contacts:

Destiny Bedwell
Marketing and Communications Coordinator
Ontario 211 Services
Ph: 416-77-0211, ext. 225
Email: dbedwell@211ontario.ca
Cell: 416-559-4643

*(Canadian Institute for Health Information. How Canada Compares: Results from the Common Wealth Fund 2014 International Health Policy Survey of Older Adults. Ottawa; ON. CIHI. 2015).