Nova Scotians will get faster, easier access to public and community services with a new provincewide 2-1-1 service that is expected to begin in 18 months. Premier Darrell Dexter today, April 8, announced the province will provide $585,000 in 2011-12 to establish the service, and annual operational funding, which will increase over the next five years to $945,000. The funding will be provided to the United Way of Halifax Region, which will work with 2-1-1 Nova Scotia, a not-for-profit organization, to establish and run the service. It is expected to be operational in the fall of 2012. “We have a wonderful network of community and not-for-profit groups, working hand-in-hand with government to support families who need help. But it only works when those families can find the right program or the service when they need it,” said Premier Dexter. “By supporting 2-1-1, we’re making life better for families. This service will help the many valuable social agencies across the province to reach people who need them.” 2-1-1 will be a toll-free, 24-hour, 365-day-a-year service that will provide people with information and referrals to services offered by all levels of government, government-funded organizations, not-for-profit and volunteer services. It will provide non-emergency information and referrals. Community groups often receive calls for help from people who do not know which way to turn, said Catherine Woodman, president and CEO of the United Way of Halifax Region. “We are always hearing from people who struggle to navigate the complex arrangement of government and community-based supports, so we’re delighted that government has committed to this valuable service,” said Ms. Woodman. “The people who use 2-1-1 may be new moms or new Canadians, their English may be strong, but their hearing or vision impaired. Or they may be overwhelmed by their life circumstances. 2-1-1 will make these services so much easier for people to find.” Bell Aliant has committed $40,000, plus key team members and in-kind services, to the launch of 2-1-1 Nova Scotia. “Today’s announcement makes Nova Scotia the home of Atlantic Canada’s first-ever, provincewide 2-1-1 service, and Bell Aliant is very proud to be one of the first supporters of this important social initiative,” said Chuck Hartlen, senior vice-president of customer experience for Bell Aliant and chair of the 2-1-1 Nova Scotia Board. Nova Scotia Power Inc. has also committed $225,000 to set up 2-1-1 Nova Scotia. “Nova Scotia Power is honoured to play a part in the creation of a 2-1-1 service for Nova Scotia,” said Alan Richardson, vice-president of integrated customer services, Nova Scotia Power. “Providing a single point of access will make a real difference in the lives of Nova Scotians when they need assistance.” There are 2-1-1 services in parts of Ontario, B.C., Quebec and Alberta, but Nova Scotia is the first to initiate the service provincewide.