Information to be just a 211 call away

A 211 call system to connect Central Albertans to a range of community, health, government and social services information is expected to be up and running by next summer or fall.

A 211 call system to connect Central Albertans to a range of community, health, government and social services information is expected to be up and running by next summer or fall.

The 211 system, a simple three-digit telephone call like 911 for emergencies or 411 for directory assistance, has been available in Edmonton and Calgary for several years.

In Central Alberta, it will enhance what was offered by Community Information and Referral Society (CiRS), now called Volunteer Red Deer.

Robert Mitchell, CEO of United Way of Central Alberta and member of the provincial 211 steering committee, said 211 — a confidential, multi-lingual, 24-hour system — will ensure everyone will have access to information, particularly the most vulnerable populations, like seniors.

“It’s a free phone call. You don’t need to have an Internet connection,” Mitchell said.

“It will kind of replace all the other information sources. It puts it all in one place. If you need community information across a whole broad spectrum of issues, call 211.”

Human service professionals often use 211 to get information for their clients, he said.

Some parts of Canada have 211 and Alberta is now working on a provincial 211 network.

“From June onward, it’s going to roll out across the province. Some areas are further ahead than other areas.

“What (Central Alberta) needs to do is update our data base locally. We’ve got about 70 per cent. That will be the first stage before the phone line goes live. We’re hoping to do that in the next quarter.”

Central Alberta calls would be answered by the 211 call centre in Edmonton by people trained in information referral who will ask callers questions to assess exactly what callers need.

Mitchell said 80 per cent of funding to operate the provincial 211 system will come from the province.

A $3.5-million provincial grant is anticipated in the new year and the province is initially committed for about three years.

United Ways across Canada have supported 211 and United Way of Central Alberta is initially providing $10,000 this year.

A total of $20,000 will be required annually from municipalities in the region.

“I think it will be a good thing for the region. We want to ensure vulnerable people in our community have access to the resources they need and this is just one part of that, an important part,” Mitchell said.

Sam Denhaan, a member of Central Alberta Poverty Reduction Alliance, said he still prefers a community office like CiRS that people could visit or call for information.

But 211 could work if staff have enough information to pass along to callers, he said.

“This is a very legitimate item to be funded out of the city tax base,” Denhaan said.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Two men arrested on drug charges in Blackfalds

Blackfalds RCMP say they expect to lay more charges after two men… Continue reading

Edmonton-Red Deer-Calgary bullet train waiting for provincial blessing

A high-speed train project between Edmonton and Calgary, proposed in April 2018,… Continue reading

Home selling and building markets reflecting a tough economy, but hope in sight

Real estate sales and new home builds still lagging 2018

Former Sylvan Lake bank employee sentenced to three years in prison for $1M fraud

Red Deer woman was ordered to pay nearly $830,000 in restitution

All that jazz back at Sylvan Lake

17th annual Jazz at the Lake runs Aug. 16 to 18

VIDEO: Reports say Lashana Lynch is the new 007

Daniel Craig will reprise his role as Bond one last time

Hernandez, Gurriel lead Blue Jays to 10-4 win over Red Sox

Blue Jays 10 Red Sox 4 BOSTON — Teoscar Hernandez hit a… Continue reading

New head coach Nick Nurse preparing Canada for long FIBA World Cup run

TORONTO — Nick Nurse is going to prepare Canada’s men’s basketball team… Continue reading

Court of Appeal dismisses Paradise Shores arguments

A court will not hear arguments; sticks with appeal board’s ruling

Schitt’s Creek’ and its stars among Canadians with Emmy nominations

TORONTO — Eugene Levy thought the highlight of his Tuesday would be… Continue reading

Singh sees Quebec as ‘fertile ground’ for NDP as he hits province for tour

OTTAWA — The province of Quebec offers the federal New Democrats fertile… Continue reading

Airline confirms three dead after float plane crashes in Labrador lake

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Four occupants of a downed float plane remained… Continue reading

New developments in text-messaging controversy involving Manitoba chief

WINNIPEG — The women’s council of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs says… Continue reading

N.S. minister holds off comment on wrongful conviction case due to past as Mountie

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia’s justice minister — a retired Mountie — says… Continue reading

Most Read