211 Ontario

What is 211?


211 Ontario is a telephone and web service that provides information to the public about community and social services in Ontario.  The service operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year.  Service is available in 175 languages and has been available to Lambton residents since December 15, 2011.  In 2012, seven regional centres across the province handled a total of approximately 600,000 calls.

Emergency Notifications - 211 Ontario

Callers with a hearing impairment can use the TTY line:  1-866-488-9311.

In addition to providing assistance to callers looking for information about community and social services, 211 Call Centres also serve as public information centres during emergencies.  The ability of 211 to effectively handle questions and assist the public during emergencies has been proven during several major incidents such as the Leamington and Goderich tornados in 2010 and 2011, and the Thunder Bay flooding of 2012.  Locally, 211 was activated during the central Lambton Boil Water Advisory in October 2014 and the Lambton Shores natural gas release in 2015.

During Emergencies

In most instances, the primary source of immediate information to the public will be local radio broadcasts, media websites and government web/social media sites.  During large-scale emergencies however, 211 Ontario will be another source of information available to residents directly impacted by an emergency, who require information about relief assistance or instructions to protect their safety.

211 Ontario will relay accurate information and instructions provided by municipal and emergency officials during emergencies.  Consequently, it is strongly hoped that the public will be less inclined to call 911 looking for information.  911 is to be used to report emergencies or request assistance from police, fire or medical services – not to obtain information!

Click here for information on how to make the right call.

Dialling 211

211 Ontario is not a public notification system –  it is a public inquiry service that can provide authorized information during emergencies.

211 Ontario is not a news information line.  The service is intended for those who have been directly impacted by a crisis or disaster and who need information about assistance that might be available to them (such as local relief services, the location of the nearest emergency shelters or water distribution centres, etc.).

If 211 Ontario is activated during an emergency by a local municipality or the County, residents will be advised through local media and other sources that calling 211 Ontario is an additional means available to them to obtain official information and instructions.

Examples of when 211 Ontario might be activated

  • Following a large-scale disaster that requires a community response (i.e. the Highway 402 Snowstorm Emergency, 2011 Central Lambton tornado, Superstorm Sandy power outages).
  • During a large-scale evacuation following a disaster.
  • When emergency shelters are opened for residents because of a disaster.
  • Following a tornado causing major damage to communities and infrastructure.
  • During a drinking water advisory.
  • Following a widespread power outage* during extremely hot or cold temperatures, when emergency shelters, or warming or cooling centres are opened to the public.
  • Following a disaster when volunteers or donations are needed.

*To obtain information about power outages do not call 211 – call your local service provider or visit their website:

Bluewater Power:  519-337-8201 (choose option #1)
Hydro One:  1-800-434-1235
Union Gas:  1-877-969-0999
Enbridge Gas:  1-866-763-5427