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National 211 Day: Local United Way highlights crucial community service

'Community navigators' assist callers by listening and helping them find health, social and government services
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United Way Halton and Hamilton is shining a light on an important community navigation service during national 211 Day, held annually on Feb. 11 (2/11).

211 is Canada’s primary source of information for government and community-based, nonclinical health and social services. The free and confidential service can be accessed in more than 150 languages, by phone, chat, text and online.

“With the growing challenges posed by the cost-of-living pressures, more members of our community are reaching out for assistance. It can be quite overwhelming, especially for those who don’t know who they can turn to for support,” says United Way Halton and Hamilton President and CEO Brad Park.

“Help is just three numbers away. The 211 service connects the community to a knowledgeable support worker, helping people access local social services, including programs supported by United Way Halton and Hamilton.”

Given its database is the largest inventory of Canada’s community services and government programs and benefits in the country, 211 is able to help people access shelter and food, mental health support, financial counselling, and public safety information during emergencies.

According to the United Way, the top needs identified by 211 in Halton and Hamilton in 2023 were housing, such as crisis, domestic violence and homeless drop-in shelters; health, such as support groups, diagnostic services and specialized care; and mental health, such as support groups, counselling and crisis intervention hotlines.

In Halton and Hamilton, 211 received over 7,000 contacts by phone, web chat and email in 2023, with adults (42 per cent) and older adults (13 per cent) making up the majority of clients.

"By dialing 211, residents will reach a knowledgeable, compassionate community navigator trained to listen and support them to find services for their acute needs and any underlying concerns," said the United Way in a press release.

"The navigator will connect them to local community services and programs and inform them of important government benefits and services they can access."

To learn more about 211 services, visit

Make the Right Call

  • 911 is the number to call for life-threatening emergencies.
  • 988 is the number to call if someone is thinking or talking about suicide or death, or has a plan to end their life.
  • 211 is the number to call for information on community-based health, social and government services. It's the number to call when you need help, but aren’t sure where to turn.
  • In large cities, 311 is the number established to access information about municipal services (such as bylaw enforcement, road repairs, garbage collection, municipal recreation programs, property taxes, etc.).
  • 411 is the number that residents call for business or residential listings (phone book/yellow pages).
  • 811 is the number that residents call for help finding health information and services.