Let’s Bring bc211 to Vancouver Island

What is the need?

janefriendSometimes, it feels like there’s no one to turn to. Have you ever been concerned about a
challenge facing a friend, neighbour, family member – or even yourself? Have you ever
wondered if there was a community, government or social service that could help? 

In fact, there are hundreds of programs and services available across our region to help people with a wide variety of issues. For example, services specifically designed to help seniors or those caring for them, programs for parents, children and youth, people dealing with addictions, language barriers or unemployment. There are ways to help people who are homeless, living with disabilities or working to overcome financial problems.

At United Way Greater Victoria, we know – perhaps, better than anyone else – the depth and breadth of services available in our community. So we can truly empathize with anyone having to navigate such a complex array of offerings when dealing with an immediate or chronic issue.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was a navigator who could map out which service would be the best option and then connect you to it?  Even better, what if it was available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in 180 languages, completely confidential and entirely free?

And, what if you could simply call, send a text, email or go online to get this service?

Well, you may be surprised to learn that this service already exists. It’s called bc211 and it has an award-winning track record. It’s been in operation in other provinces across Canada and throughout the United States for many years. bc211 is already available in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Squamish, Sunshine Coast and Lillooet. Unfortunately, it’s not available on Vancouver Island.  Not yet. United Way Greater Victoria wants to change that. 

Currently, United Way Greater Victoria has funded the upcoming expansion and redesign of bc211.ca website, but we believe Vancouver Island residents should have access to the incredible help line and text messaging option.

To bring 211 to the island, we are going to need your help. Please join us in answering the call.  You can help change thousands of lives. Read our FAQ then please contact Marg Rose at 250-220-7365 or email marg.rose@uwgv.ca.

Thanks to our bc211 donors to date:


windsorsPhilanthropists John and Catherine Windsor have already made a seed $40,000/yr for three years financial commitment to help fund the expansion of bc211 to include phone and text messaging. They have a particular reason for doing so…to help seniors: 

“Let’s not forget that today’s seniors are yesterday’s teachers, nurses, doctors, soldiers and business leaders.  Together with their parents, they built this wonderful country. The least we can do is help look after them in their later years.  We need to recognize that it is our duty as citizens and beneficiaries of their many years of service to do so. Looking after our seniors is a huge responsibility and a privilege. Providing them with 211 is a great way to help them, their children (or other caregivers), to get and stay connected to the services and information they need.

However, we need to elevate the bc211 online services on Vancouver Island to include the 211 phone and text service. Just think how satisfying it would be if our grandmothers and mothers, living alone, who needed help, could simply dial 211 and talk to a real person.” ~ John Windsor, United Way Donor



Thank You to Telus Victoria Community Board who have met the Windsor’s challenge and provided a $40,000 grant to help bring the bc211 phone and text option to the island.


Black Press

Jim Pattison Broadcast Group

Kathy and Keith MacPhail

ALACS Fund through Victoria Foundation

Clint and Carole Forster

John McEown

Edward Jones Foundation and 8 local Financial Advisors


Berwick Retirement Communities



Peter and Helen Malcolm

ssif_logo_col“The Foundation welcomes the expansion of the bc211 service to Salt Spring. It will be an important resource, available 24 hours a day, for connecting island residents with any essential services they may need.”

Beverly Unger


BY THE NUMBERS 2015 (based on statistics for the Lower Mainland)

bc211 REACH

• bc211 coverage reaches 60% of the population of BC

• 66,000 referrals to community agencies for help

• Top two reasons for calling 211: housing and homelessness and substance abuse

• BC Community Services Society, the agency that manages bc211 has 63 years of proven service in information and referral to 600,000 British Columbians

• Help offered in 180 different languages and dialects; 11 are First Nations

Front view Smartphone isolated on white


  • 56,000 incoming calls answered
  • 60% are female
  • 2,819 calls about domestic violence
  • 54% calls related to a shelter



red laptopONLINE

  • 236,000 online visits to community resources directory
  • 8,400 services listed on bc211.ca
  • 4,600 average users per week