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Resource hotline BC 211 sees 194% spike on Vancouver Island in 2020

Victoria News - 2/12/2021

National 211 Day Feb. 11 is celebrating connecting Canadians to critical resources.

Operating since 2017, BC211 is a free and confidential information service that refers people to services in their area. By dialing 211 anytime, day or night, callers will be put in touch with a trained specialist, who can put them in contact with the appropriate resources in their own community, helping to meet the caller's needs.

According to a survey done by United Way Centraide Canada, the pandemic has impacted the basic needs of Canadians, as well as their mental health.

76 per cent of Canadians said the pandemic had an effect on their mental health, as 57 per cent have said it has caused them stress, 55 per cent say they are experiencing anxiety, and 36 per cent said it has caused depression, the survey states.

On Vancouver Island, BC211 saw 194 per cent more people contact them from March to December 2020 compared to the previous year. The Survey also says that on Vancouver Island, contact requests related to mental health raised by 222 per cent, and calls for income and financial assistance elevated by 203 per cent.

The top reasons people have reached out to BC211 in Canada since March 2020, has been for food access, mental health and addictions services, financial aid, housing and COVID-19 information.

As vulnerability and instability increases for Canadians due to circumstances on the pandemic, United Way is glad to have extended their service. The initiative is now offered to everyone, 365 days a year in over 150 languages, as United Way received emergency funding from the Government of Canada as part of its COVID-19 response.

"We've been proud to advocate for and support 2-1-1 on Vancouver Island since 2017," said Mark Breslauer, CEO of United Way Greater Victoria, in a press release. "Sometimes the greatest obstacle to get help is knowing where to start. Free, confidential help is just a call or a text away, something that is crucially important as we head into a second year of COVID-19."