Make the Right Call: Contact 211, not 911, for non-emergency help and information
February 11, 2018
211 Alberta, the number to call to connect to government, community, health and social services, has released its 2017 statistics. The numbers show that 92,165 calls for non-emergency help were answered by 211 across the province and its website received 37,954 visits.
February 11th is 211 Day across North America. The annual day is an opportunity to raise awareness of the multi-lingual service in the community. When non-emergency calls come into 911 they tie up the emergency lines, making it harder for people who have a real emergency to get through. 211 is a free information and referral service, including phone, chat and online search, for Albertan’s needing non-emergency help, such as mental health support, financial services, resources for seniors and more.
On 211 Day we want to encourage Albertans to Make the Right Call and contact 211, NOT 911, when they need non-emergency help. Making the right call means that 911 lines will be free to take emergency calls, and those calling 211 will be more quickly connected with the help and information they are seeking.
“One of the things that makes 211 such a unique and valuable service to the community is that when Albertans contact 211, our Information and Referral Specialists not only connect them to services they need, they also advocate on their behalf and offer follow-up calls to ensure they were connected with the appropriate services,” said Robyn Romano, Director of Operations, Distress Centre Calgary.
Residents should always call 911 for a life-threatening emergency, when a property is in danger or a crime is in progress that requires the police, fire or paramedic services.
The top reasons for calls to 211 last year included people searching for help with Financial Needs (14,009), Shelter/Housing (9,599) and Information/Public Services (8,007). 86% of our callers surveyed reported following up on the referrals provided to 211, and accessing the help they need. Calling 211 is an easy way to access information about financial, emotional, social and basic needs support in Alberta communities 24/7.
About 211 Alberta
211 is a free and confidential service that helps Albertans access a network of social services quickly and easily, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in over 170 languages. 211 was launched in Edmonton in 2004 and in Calgary in 2005. United Way has been instrumental in bringing 211 to cities in Alberta, and is now playing a leading role, along with many community partners, to initiate and implement a province-wide service so more people can benefit from the 24 hour support. Daily online chat was added in 2016 to increase the ways that Albertans can access our service by visiting ab.211.ca.