Martin C. Barry
Laval has become the first city in the metropolitan Montreal region to offer live 2-1-1 telephone service, allowing callers to gain immediate access to a wide range of social and community organizations by entering 2-1-1 into the keypad on any phone.
Help seven days a week
The 2-1-1 operators will be available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week to provide information on 300 organizations dealing with food security, homelessness, psychosocial support, employment assistance and human rights.
A comprehensive Laval 2-1-1 website (211laval.ca) has also been set up to provide information identical to that available over the phone for any social or community group based in Laval or elsewhere in the Montreal region. The service is available in English, French and several hundred other languages for which translation is provided.
The City of Laval undertook to provide the service in conjunction with the Information and Referral Centre of Greater Montreal. Laval has agreed to pay more than $305,000 to the IRCGM for the service over the next five years, including the phone system and web access.
Under the agreement, the IRCGM will be evaluating the effectiveness of the service, while also quantifying it statistically. Two committees have been formed to follow up in these respects.
“In addition to contributing to the social well-being of families and communities, 2-1-1 Laval will allow us to consolidate our community network by assuring a continuous promotion of resources offered on our territory and beyond,” Mayor Marc Demers said during a press conference at city hall last week. “This is a win-win situation for our residents and the organizations we regard as our partners,” the mayor added.
An innovative project
“Laval’s political and administrative authorities showed they are social innovators and become the first city in the greater Montréal area to adopt a 2-1-1 service facilitating access to our community resources,” said Pierrette Gagné, IRCGM’s executive director.
“From this point forward, Laval citizens will have rapid access to all the information and social and community-based services needed,” Gagné continued. “But it will also be the case for community-based and public groups that will be directing these persons to the pertinent resources after having consulted the 211 data base or having been informed by the Centre’s counsellors.”