What is 211?
211 quickly and confidentially connects people to social services and community programs across Ontario.
Our helpline is answered by real people 24/7. Service is available in 150+ languages. Text is available Monday to Friday from 7am – 9pm ET. Live chat service is available Monday to Friday from 7am – 9pm ET.
How does 211 work?
Unlike search engines, 211 applies a human touch for personalized solutions. Our highly trained and accredited Community Navigators know how to ask the right questions to get the full picture of a person’s needs. Navigators then provide referrals to services to connect callers to the right supports. In addition, some partnerships include 211 registering individuals for services directly or providing a warm transfer to the program. 211 will also advocate on a contact’s behalf, at their request.
How do I know if I should be calling 211 or another number?
2-1-1 connects individuals to non-emergency community programs and social services in their areas.
9-1-1 responds to life- or property-threatening emergencies.
3-1-1 connects you to non-emergency municipal services, programs and information. Note: this is not available in all communities.
8-1-1 connects you to healthcare workers who can provide health advice and information.
Using the Database
Searching the Database
There are two primary methods to search from the main search page, keyword search or topic search.
The website will attempt to populate the location from your browser. You may also enter or change to a different location. Valid locations include towns/cities, postal codes or street addresses. A location is necessary for searching to retrieve relevant results.
Enter your keywords or key phrase to search. Suggestions will appear as you begin typing. You may enter your keywords enclosed in quotes for exact matches.
The list of categories and topics is intended to make finding resources easier. Click on a topic category then click on “View Resources” below each topic to view the results.
Once you have searched using a keyword or selected a topic, the search results page will appear. By default, results are sorted by the most relevant first. You can view the results on a map by clicking on the “Map” button above the results.
Using the Map
Use the map to easily see where services are located. To search using the map, enter a location and click/tap on “Set.” Then enter keywords or select a topic from the list. Results will appear on the map.
Use the advanced search to define additional search parameters and filter results.
Using the Clipboard
Who answers the live chat service?
The same helpful, trained information and referral specialists who provide our 211 telephone answer your live chat messages.
Is the live chat service free?
Our service is free. If you use live chat from a cell phone or other mobile device without connecting to free wifi, the service will use some data on your plan.
Can I use the live chat service from a smartphone?
Live chat works best on a computer.
In what languages are the live chat available?
The services are available in English and French. For 211 service in other languages, please call our telephone service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 211.
Is the service confidential?
Our service is confidential. The only exception to this is if we are seriously concerned about your safety or someone else’s – in this case, we will try to send help.
Privacy and Data
We are committed to keeping your privacy protected and your information confidential at all times.
211 maintains comprehensive, standardized resource data and anonymized contact data in various formats. We share our data with communities, governments and organizations for public good. For more information, visit our 211 Data page.
Where do I give feedback about 211?
For complaints and compliments, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Community Agencies
How do I add a new listing?
If you would like your organization, or one you know of, to be listed in the 211 Ontario database, please fill out this form.
How do I update or make a change to my existing record?
If your information is out of date, please click on Suggest Update at the bottom of your record listing.
How can I best ensure that my organization and its services are represented correctly?
Understanding how the 211 search engine and taxonomy (categorization) work is helpful in describing your organization and its services/programs.
What is the difference between an agency, a program, and a site record?
The 211 database has three different types of records: Agency, Site, and Program (or Service) records. This differentiation allows for more precise searching and is much easier to maintain. The website’s search function focuses on the program records, because users are generally looking for appropriate programs or services rather than the service provider’s name. This structure also makes it much easier to update a record should an agency move, or a given program expand or relocate. In that case typically only one record will need to be modified, rather than changing that information in all programs offered at a given site.
The Agency record provides a general and overarching statement about what the Agency does. It is best to use active verbs to describe it.
The Site record describes the site, or physical location of the agency. The description can be as straightforward as ‘is a site location for [agency x], or ‘is the administrative office of [agency x]; services are provided elsewhere, see additional service records for details. ‘ It may also include details such as ‘clothing donations can be dropped at back entrance.’
How do I order promotional materials?
Anyone can order promotional material for their organization, church, apartment building, community group or event. We’ll even ship it to you for free! For more information, visit our Order Promotional Materials page.