Do you know what a 2-1-1 call is?

The United Way South Niagara with the 211 Ontario helpline are asking residents to make the right call if they want or need help.

Call 2-1-1 for information on your community, social and health services if you don’t know where to turn with a problem. Call 911 for threats or harm to a person or property that require police, fire or ambulance services. Several regions and municipalities also have 311 customer service and municipal information lines for questions about municipal services. Knowing the right number to call will help residents find the right services for their situation and has the potential to reduce inappropriate calls to 911 from residents.

“211 is an easy to remember phone number like 911. 211 is answered by highly trained specialists who know our community services and can refer callers to services near them,” said ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Tamara Coleman-Lawrie, executive director of United Way South Niagara. “211 has information not only on services United Way supports but all our community’s social, health and government services that can help you with any number of life’s challenges.”

211 is answered live, 24 hours a day, every day of the year including holidays. Residents are encouraged to call 2-1-1 for services like food banks if they are hungry, mental health support if they are stressed or for the non-emergency police number if they need the police but it is not an emergency.

“211 is your one stop shop to find services that are often provided by any of the three levels of government, charities and non-profits. Everything from finding the phone number for Telehealth Ontario to tax clinics for seniors and low-income people to homework clubs and seniors’ centres,” said Rosanna Thoms, executive director of 211 Central South. “We do not provide information on businesses.”

211 is the Ontario helpline for community and social service information. 211 is answered live 24/7 by highly trained Information and Referral Specialists. The database is updated by trained Information Resource Specialists. 211 is supported by the United Ways in Ontario and the Ministry of Community and Social Services. Interpretation of calls is available in more than 150 languages.

Call 2-1-1 for:
Non-emergency police number
Food banks
Walk in clinics
Alzheimer support
Mental health help
Meals on Wheels
Emergency shelters for homeless
Services for domestic violence victims
Public health
Telehealth Ontario
Crisis services
Provincial and local helpline phone numbers
Settlement help for newcomers
Housing help centres
Youth drop in programs
Child, youth and family counselling
Emergency utility assistance
Understanding which government service might help or assistance
Disability support programs
Parenting programs


Call 9-1-1 for:
In an emergency, call 911 immediately.
An emergency is any situation that requires immediate assistance from the police, fire department or paramedics. Examples include:

  • A fire
  • A crime, especially if in progress
  • A car crash, especially if someone is injured
  • A medical emergency, such as someone who is unconscious, gasping for air or not breathing, experiencing an allergic reaction, having chest pain, having uncontrollable bleeding, or any other symptoms that require immediate medical attention

BOTTOM LINE: Knowing in advance of a situation which number to call will save you stress and time to get the services and help you need!

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