PRINCE GEORGE, B.C – United Way and BC211 celebrate the 211 call service’s expansion across the north during 211 Day.

In a release on Tuesday, United Way of Northern BC says this year’s celebration is notable because, for the first time, the service is available to anyone in Canada. Anyone can call 2-1-1 to reach a Service Navigator for information on community-based health, social and government services in or near their community.

The call service expanded to the northern region last spring.

The Government of Canada announced funding to activate the nationwide expansion of 211 in October 2020. The government also announced funding to support existing 211 services experiencing surging demand.

Nationally, the service’s call volume increased by 30 per cent from March to December in 2020 compared to the year prior, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first half of 2020 saw a huge increase in requests for food-related needs and financial assistance. In the second half of the year, the service had an increase in housing support, and mental health and addictions calls. Housing calls rose by one third, and mental health and addiction calls doubled by December compared to the year prior.

“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,” says Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, Ahmed Hussen.

The service is free, confidential, and 24/7 in most of Canada and available in more than 150 languages. 

To celebrate 211 Day on February 11th, United Way asks residents to add the 211 banner on their Facebook profile pic, download the 211 Day colouring sheet, and post it on your window to spread awareness of the service.

A handful of locations in Canada will be participating in the United Glow to celebrate the expansion by illuminating major landmarks in 211 red.