211 is an information and referral service that connects people to a full range of community, social, government and health services programs. The service relies on an easy-to-remember, three-digit, non-emergency telephone number that connects to a 24-hour call centre. The first 211 service opened in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1997 under the auspices of the United Way of Atlanta. Since that time, the 211 concept has spread across North America. New 211 call centres continue to open regularly across the continent.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) awarded a license for reserved use of the 211 number to a consortium led by United Way of Canada/Centraide Canada in 2001. Operating within the terms set by the CRTC, 211 services and trademarks are controlled and licensed by United Way of Canada/Centraide Canada. The first Canadian 211 service started in Toronto in 2002. Since then, similar services have sprung up across the country and are now found in many major Canadian cities, including Ottawa and Toronto.

In 2006, United Way organizations across Ontario banded together to collectively call upon the Government of Ontario to “make 211 accessible to all residents of Ontario”. The Government responded by providing a $3 million grant over three years to expand and develop www.211Ontario.ca, a bilingual website housing a directory of approximately 60,000 human services available in Ontario. It also earmarked $1.4 million to draw up a province-wide delivery model and to fund the acquisition of equipment for regional call centres. Today, nearly 50 percent of Ontario communities are connected to this service.

Provincial plans envisage that the eastern Ontario call centre in Ottawa, operated by the Community Information Centre of Ottawa, will also become the focal point for French language services across the province through a consolidated network of 211 call centres.

211 service launched in Renfrew County January 28, 2011

The lead agency for the introduction of 211 service in Renfrew County is Renfrew County United Way (RCUW) in partnership with the Community Information Centre of Ottawa and the Community Resource Centre (Killaloe) Inc. The data base supporting 211 in Renfrew is a version of County Connections, a directory of human services funded in part by RCUW. RCUW funded the Community Resource Centre (Killaloe) Inc. to ensure that this data base was formatted to province-wide standards at the time of the official launch. Funding contributions from the provincial and federal governments are in place, and discussions are underway for contributions from municipal levels of government.

ON211_AnnualReport Final.pdf4.35 MB
Ontario 211 Caller Needs 2010.pdf838.26 KB
Renfrew County Short Report - March 2011.pdf864.11 KB