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More people turning to 211 as needs continue to rise


The 211 helpline has become more vital than ever in connecting people in our communities to the services they need. 

In 2022, inflation exacerbated existing economic strain, causing increased needs for food access and security, higher energy costs, and decreased housing affordability. The pandemic and economic downturn have put many people in the position of needing support for the first time in their lives. 

This has made 211’s role as Canada’s primary source of information on government and community-based, non-clinical health and social services invaluable.  

Recently, many community organizations have been going through major changes while recovering from the pandemic, and 211 has helped fill the gaps, to help people navigate the complex network of support. For example, after the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) ended, 211 saw an increase of inbound calls as people still needed financial support. 

“Because times are tough economically, 211 has to work even harder with its community partners to overcome challenges in delivering critical services. United Way plays a big part in bringing everyone to the table to help identify organizational strengths and find new ways to innovate.”

Every year on February 11, the United Way network celebrates 211 Day to raise awareness and accentuate the importance of the 211 service in our communities. 

Connect with 211 24/7, 365 days a year

According to data collected by United Way Centraide Canada and 211 operators across the country, needs related to counseling services increased by 34 per cent in the first six months of 2022 in comparison to the last six months of 2021. Meanwhile, needs related to housing and food went up 19 per cent in the first six months of last year, compared to the first half of 2021 

“Our calls are getting longer and more complex in all areas.”

As proud founding partner and supporter of 211, United Way’s goal is to increase awareness for the service to make it available to all communities across the country.

The 211 database has the largest inventory of Canada’s community and government services and benefits, making it uniquely positioned to support emergency response and management efforts, and equitable recovery. Every day, the helpline provides personalized navigation support to people in vulnerable circumstances, including seniors, newcomers, Indigenous communities, and more. 

“What we hear, anecdotally from 211 users is, ‘It is so great that I can actually talk to a live person and connect with somebody.’ The big thing we do with 211 is it’s live, 24-hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year, and I think that’s going to become more significant as we move forward.”

Help people in your community get connected with the essential services they need. 



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