New Brunswickers can now call 211 to connect with all social services

New Brunswick has launched a new phone line that will help connect people with government services such as food access and mental health support.

The new line came together through a partnership between the federal and provincial governments, and United Way.

“This is going to make an incredible difference,” said Alexya Heelis, executive director of United Way Saint John.

“There are all these different help lines and different services that people can call, but when you’re in crises or when you have that really urgent critical need, you might not be able to find that (number) or remember.”

The phone line launched on Thursday and is taking calls. People who dial 211 will be connected with a community navigator, who will direct the caller to the services they need. Services include food security, mental health support, housing, and home care.

“Really, any of the sort of social services,” said Heelis. “Anything you’re struggling with and don’t know where to turn.”

Other provinces have a similar line. Prince Edward Island launched its phone line near the start of the pandemic. Heelis said this project has been in the works for over 10 years. 

Bilingual service

Phone operators have been trained for two weeks and will be bilingual. Heelis said this will make a difference for people, and also organizations who are trying to get people help.

“When I talk to my community partners, the organizations that are there on the front lines helping people, even they sometimes struggle with knowing where to send somebody who has a specific need,” said Heelis.

“It will be easy to remember: this is where I call, then they’re going to be able to get connected to the service they need.”

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