A busy holiday season on the 211 phone service

A busy holiday season on the 211 phone service

Available everywhere in Quebec since December, the telephone service 211 redirects people in need to community and social organizations. While Quebec goes into confinement mode for the holiday season, 211 Greater Montreal expects an increase in requests.

“With the second wave of the COVID, our calls are more important than in normal situations ”, indicates the general director of the Center of reference of Greater Montreal, Pierrette Gagné.

“The COVID situation is expected to last for a long time. It creates poverty, anxiety, isolation and mental health issues. We will still have significant efforts to make in the coming months and after the crisis. ” – Pierrette Gagné, Executive Director of the Reference Center of Greater Montreal

The line, open seven days a week, acts as a referral service depending on the caller’s needs. No way to take Christmas or New Year’s day off for the 211 team.

“We’re ready. Already, the concerns of isolation and of people who are in precarious situations are there. So our team has grown to continue to serve the territory well, ”explains Ms. Gagné.

Thus, a dozen counselors from 211 Greater Montreal transfer calls, in particular, to mental health or loneliness support organizations for the elderly.

“We especially expect longer calls because these are lonely, worried, destitute people who need to be listened to and be able to redirect them to resources,” notes Ms. Gagné.

A few researchers are also added to the team. They are responsible for updating the database on the 211 website. Due to the pandemic, several organizations have changed their schedules in recent months.


Some people contact 211 to donate various things, such as furniture. The service then redirects people to the appropriate organization that can receive donations.

The 211 line also says it receives a lot of calls related to food needs, in particular because several families have lost sources of income during the pandemic. On the phone, respondents try to establish good contact with callers, since they sometimes have more than one problem.

“Someone who calls and needs food aid, he may need to do some research for more affordable housing or a job search,” explains the director.


COVID-19 has prompted Montrealers to ask for more help. Between March 15 and December 15, that is to say, the period between the first and second wave, a little more than 40,000 calls were made to 211. By comparison, 29,235 requests were received. performed in 2019 during the same interval.

The 211 service also has a website that acts as a directory center for finding organizations near you. There are approximately 6,000 resources for the greater Montreal region.

In recent weeks, an online chat service seven days a week has been made available to the population, in addition to the telephone line, in order to reach a larger pool of people in need.

Consult the 211.qc.ca or dial 211.


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