211 Saskatchewan

Building stronger communities

United Way is leading the implementation of 211 throughout Saskatchewan to help improve access to services and support the mental, emotional and spiritual well-being for everyone in our province.

Issue

Everyone in our province will need human services at some point in their lives, for themselves, or for their families and friends.

A significant barrier for individuals and families to accessing the services they need is the complexity of finding the information they are looking for.  Whether it is finding assistance with basic needs such as food, shelter and employment, looking for support  for an aging parent, or trying to find childcare, navigating through all of the information out there can be overwhelming, confusing and ultimately a roadblock to finding support.

Beyond the everyday needs, during times of crisis or an emergency, an effective and efficient access point for services is extremely valuable.  This was the case during the Calgary floods and Hurricane Katrina, where 211 was a significant resource for those affected.

Action  

 211 is the source Canadians trust when seeking information and services to deal with life’s challenges. Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in 150 languages, 211 provides quick and easy access to those requiring assistance. All calls are answered by accredited information and referral specialists, who assess the needs of each caller and link them to the best available information and services by consulting a comprehensive, searchable database.

At this point in time in Saskatchewan, 211 is only available as an on-line tool.  United Way of Saskatoon and Area, and United Way Regina are committed to implementing full 211 service (including a phone line) to the people of our province.

Results

Since 2014, there have been over 210,000 unique visits and searches on www.sk.211.ca with the top 3 searches being child/family services, mental health and shelters.

211 helps first responders, social workers, police, and other service providers find accurate information to direct people to the right resources, and relieves pressure on 911 by providing a more appropriate option in non-emergency situations.

A recent survey indicated that 84% of those surveyed found the site useful.  64% found the information that they were looking for and 49% learned about a new service they did not know existed.

A fully implemented 211 service in Saskatchewan will be an important asset for strengthening the human-service sector.  We will be able to identify gaps in services and geographical areas and make decisions based on unmet needs in our communities.