211 Ontario providing multi-program support through pandemic

Special to WC Online

ONTARIO – A few short months ago, Renfrew County residents were planning New Years resolutions and looking to make a fresh start in 2020. Fast forward to today, and all of our plans have been put on hold in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Canadians are adjusting to the effects of the virus in their communities – to self-isolation, school closures, work layoffs and health scares.  Uncertainty is the new normal and people have difficult questions and real concerns. The problem is they’re not sure where to turn for answers.

That’s where 211 Ontario can help. With its award-winning, 24-hour telephone helpline and website, 211 offers referrals to an extensive list of Ontario’s community and social services.  It’s a free and confidential resource that can make a difference to individuals and families who aren’t sure where to turn and offers interpretation to callers in over 150 languages.

“211 Ontario realizes that people’s lives have been upended at this tumultuous and challenging time,” Ontario 211 Services executive director Karen Milligan said.  “Whether callers are looking for information on shelters, food banks, financial assistance or more, 211 Navigators and Resource Specialists are ready and waiting to help them understand and access programs that can offer support.”

In particular, 211 is working diligently to alleviate stress on the public health system and on Telehealth Ontario, providing access to non-emergency health agencies, virtual mental health support, financial counselling and emergency housing links, to name but a few.

“211 has served communities during tornados, snowstorms, fires and floods, and it is ideally suited to serve Ontario residents in this time of pandemic,” Chief Paramedic and Director of Emergency Services for Renfrew County Michael Nolan said. “By pointing callers in the right direction, 211 is doing its part to ensure that emergency services and health care providers can concentrate on the life-saving work they need to do at this unprecedented time.”

As Ontario faces one of the most profound health and economic challenges in its history, 211 is stepping up to support those who find themselves in need.  If you or someone you love requires access to non-emergency health agencies, virtual mental health support, financial counselling, emergency housing links or more, help starts here.  Call 211 – three simple numbers that can make all the difference, right when you need it. 


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