Prince Rupert and Northern B.C. will be able to participate in the inaugural pan-Canada 211 Day on Feb. 11. The day is to celebrate the expansion of the United Way and BC211 service navigator which offers around the clock information on community-based health, social, and government services in the local region.
A media statement issued on Feb. 9 by the United Way said the free, confidential service available seven days a week, 24 hours of the day is accessible in 150 languages and is a result of a partnership funded between the social services organization, provincial and municipal governments.
Originally started in Toronto in 2002, the 211 service spread through several provinces and was expanded last spring to northern B.C. regions and is now available to anyone across the country.
The national 211 network experienced a 30 per cent increase in call volume in the first half of 2020 over the prior year, with calls needs shifting during the pandemic in the second half of the year.
“The needs people expressed in calls with 211 revealed some of the acute symptoms of the COVID-19 lockdown measures on the lives of Canadians. In April of 2020, 211 received more than nine times as many requests for food-related needs, and more than three times as many requests related to financial assistance relative to baseline call volumes in January and February of 2020,” the release reads.
In the second half of 2020, calls related to housing support and mental health and addictions rose sharply, reported the United Way.
“By December, the number of requests related to housing had risen by one-third relative to December 2019 call volumes, and requests for information and referrals for mental health and addiction services had doubled,” the media statement said. “Throughout the pandemic, 211 has and will continue to provide Canadians with help navigating the support services available during this challenging time.”
“…We are proud to support programs and services, like the 211 telephone line and online directory. With the ongoing pandemic, the 211 service is more important than ever, helping get information about community services to the Canadians who need it,” Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, said.
Northcoast residents can participate in 211 Day by downloading colouring sheets, adding a 211 Day frame to social media photo, posting a 211 Day logo in the front window.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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