(Moncton, N.B. – October 15, 2021) – 211 was launched in New Brunswick on October 15th, 2020 through a key partnership between the Federal Government, United Way Canada, and the three United Ways of New Brunswick, in collaboration with the Government of New Brunswick, the Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation, and the Saint John Human Development Council. 211 is a service trademarked to United Way, and its objective is to quickly connect New Brunswickers to essential community, social, and government programs and services to assist with a range of life’s challenges. Over this past year, close to 11,000 calls (approximately 2,700 in French) were placed to 211, providing community members with crucial referrals and information to assist them during an especially challenging time.
In this first year of service, call volumes have regularly exceeded launch targets by approximately 25%. The launch of the service during the COVID pandemic, combined with strong community and government partnerships, as well as direct community outreach, have all contributed to higher than projected call volumes over the past year. The 211 service has become an essential tool to provide support to individuals, as well as service providers who might have seen an increase in the complexity of clients’ needs throughout the pandemic. 211 is easing the burden of research and navigation for residents, frontline workers, and community leaders looking to access holistic services in their region, thanks to a robust database, two full-time editors continually keeping the information up to date, and trained professional Service Navigators on the other end of the line, ready to assist callers 24/7 for free, confidentially, and in over 150 languages.
Based on aggregate data collected from calls to 211, the service is able to provide the public and decision-makers with valuable statistics that highlight what the most pressing needs are in each community, where there are gaps in services, and why approximately 2.75% of all calls remain unresolved. Unsurprisingly for example, the stats affirm that affordable housing remains a concern our province. The majority of calls to 211 (15%) over the past year were related to housing insecurity (residential housing options, housing expense and utilities assistance, emergency shelter options, and information about the new Canada-NB Housing Benefit), and yet these also make a large portion of the unresolved calls due to maxed-out capacity by local agencies, long waiting lists, or a lack of assistance programs to help residents with increased rent and utility costs over the last year. In addition to gaining insight into the housing situation through calls to the service, 211 went above and beyond to assist GNB with the Review of the Rental Landscape survey in January 2021, which also highlighted similar vulnerabilities that, if left unchecked, could exacerbate housing concerns for New Brunswickers.
The other top reasons why callers reached out to 211 for support include: information requests on government programs and services (13.2%), health-related concerns (12.7%), mental health and addictions referrals (12.3%), and public safety information related to COVID advisories and regulations (12.3%). During this critical time, 211 has been able to assist individuals and service providers with a wide-range of needs, while also continuing to expand the service’s availability and accessibility through initiatives like developing referral protocols to 911 and 811, launching the 211 NB self-serve searchable database online (nb.211.ca) in July 2021, and developing a lesson-plan for students in Grades 6-8 across the Anglophone school system to help youth and families understand how to access essential help when they need it.
“We are proud to support this program that connects New Brunswickers quickly and efficiently to the services they need,” said Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch, who is also Minister Responsible for the Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation. “Seeing so many calls made to 211 over the past year indicates that this service is providing much-needed support to the people of our province, especially during this time of pandemic.”
Looking back on this first year of 211 service, it’s important for us to thank all of the partners, community agencies, frontline workers, and individuals who have helped to build trust for both users and responders as the service continues to grow. 211 NB is proud to know that New Brunswickers can access help when they need it most thanks to all who help to make the service strong, consistent, and effective.
Happy birthday to 211!