2-1-1 information service coming but only for a select few in phoning area

Council has consented to a new telephone information service, even though just a fraction of Mapleton households will be able to access the 2-1-1 service.

The 2-1-1 system, currently under development in Canada, is a free three digit phone number that will provides 24-hour-a-day access to  confidential in­formation about community, social, health and government services.

Currently, about 50% of households in Ontario have access to the 2-1-1 service, and the goal is to bring that number to 95% by 2011. In North America, the 2-1-1 initiative is being led by the United Way, in partnership with national information and referral associations.

Like the 9-1-1 service, 2-1-1 calls are live answer, but caller location is not tracked.

“I’d like to say there’s no inappropriate reason to call 2-1-1,” said Alice Grottoli, communications coordinator with Community Connection, which administers one of the eight call centres serving Ontario.

The centre is located in Collingwood and currently serves Simcoe County and the district of Muskoka. Commu­nity Connection hopes to ex­pand services to Huron and Perth counties next year.

But before it can do that, it needs approval from councils whose municipalities are covered by the affected telephone exchanges. Locally, Listowel exchanges are shared by Perth, Huron and Mapleton Town­ship.

“It affects a portion of our municipality, particularly in the southwest,” Mayor John Green said.

Specifically, 85 households in Mapleton – or about 3% – are affected by the Listowel ex­change area, which includes  the following three digit ex­changes: 291, 292, 418, 444, 492, 622, and 815.

Grottoli said while few local residents will be able to access 2-1-1 services by phone – at least at first – all of Mapleton can access the service via the internet, at 211ontario.ca.

Green thanked Grottoli for the presentation and her interest in Mapleton.  Council unanimously pass­ed a resolution consenting to Community Connection providing the 2-1-1 service.