Free info hotline requests support from UCPR

Par Raymond Berthiaume
Free info hotline requests support from UCPR
211 hotline

During the committee of the whole meeting on May 10, the United Counties of Prescott and Russell (UCPR) council viewed a presentation by John Hoyles, Executive Director of Community Navigation of Eastern Ontario (CNEO). He explained about the service that CNEO offers free of charge to partner municipalities and asked for support from the UCPR.

CNEO is an information center that connects residents to community resources they want and need. Whether it’s helpful programs and services, the latest local news, free meals lists, or up-to-date information regarding disasters and emergencies in the area, CNEO connects people with what they’re looking for. CNEO has over 7,000 local programs and services in its database, which includes workshops, events, skill training programs, and job opportunities.

In 2022, the CNEO received a total of 658 calls from residents in Prescott-Russell, while the first three months of 2023 saw a total of 152 calls in the region. Hoyles said that their call volume increased 150 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic, an increase that’s still in the process of returning to normal. He also said that these numbers would likely be much larger if people knew about the 211 hotline, but CNEO doesn’t have enough money for a marketing campaign to make people aware of the service.

The Ministry of Community and Social Services provides $4,000,000 annually to the CNEO to upkeep its databases, but this amount hasn’t increased in 14 years. Increased services as well as inflation mean that this amount is no longer enough to sustain its community services. About 75 percent of its operational budget comes from government funding, which creates short-time instability and unparalleled staff turnover.

Hoyles went in front of council to request financial support for CNEO’s short-term operations. He requested a total of $10,800 from UCPR council, an amount that was based on the 2016 census population of 89,300 in Prescott-Russell. Rounding up to 90,000 to account for population growth in the last seven years, he said that the rule of thumb in funding for 211 is 12 cents per person, and 90,000 multiplied by 12 cents is $10,800.

This financial commitment would allow CNEO to continue its services in the short term. In return, the CNEO would provide advertising materials to spread the word about the 211 hotline in the community, and it would also feature the UCPR as an official partner on its website, its community newsletter distributed to 3,000 organizations, its ‘Key Partners’ section at media events, and its news releases.

CNEO offers 24/7 service over phone, email, text messaging, or online live chat through the website. Residents can visit, email, or call 211 for more information. There is also a toll-free number at 1-877-761-9076.

The full presentation can be found at

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