Research Team explores the role of United Way and 211 organizations in Emergency Management

Par Lynn Gidluck , Co-superviseur du Centre régional de l'ouest
10 janvier 2020

United Way and 211 organizations in Emergency Management

United Way and 211 organizations in Emergency Management

Left to right: Dr. Lynn Gidluck, Community Director, Community Research Unit, University of Regina and Co-lead of PhiLab’s Western Hub; Brendan Anderson, Research Assistant and Kristin Nelson, Director 211 Saskatchewan.

 In recent years United Ways across Canada and North America have, to varying degrees, made a significant investment into the expansion of 211 services.

211 is a free information service that helps direct people to non-emergency help including mental health support, financial services, resources for seniors, and more. 

“We were pleased to be invited to contribute research ideas to the Canadian Philanthropy Partnership Research Network (PhiLab),” said Robyn Edwards-Bentz, CEO of the United Way Regina. 

A portion of the funds from this SSHRC Partnership Grant is being directed to research that will serve as a tool for future collaboration among 211 organizations, emergency response organizations, communities, and governments at all levels engaged in emergency response organizations across Canada. 

“During emergencies, 211 organizations have demonstrated a unique value as a hub for non-life-threatening communications, reducing the strain on emergency response services,” says Robyn Edwards-Bentz, CEO of the United Way Regina. “They have also demonstrated a unique value in connecting victims of emergencies and disasters to crucial goods and services, playing an important role in facilitating personal and community recovery.” 

Kristin Nelson is the Director of 211 Saskatchewan and co-investigator with Dr. Lynn Gidluck from the University of Regina on this project. They are being capably assisted by Brendan Anderson, who is a senior undergraduate student in International Studies. 

Nelson, Gidluck and Anderson travelled to Edmonton in October 2019 to attend the 211 Canada Leadership Table meeting.   

“Our annual meeting of our 211 leadership team provided an excellent opportunity to spark a roundtable discussion on the role of 211 organizations in emergency management,” said Nelson. “I was delighted by the response expressed by my colleagues across Canada to this project. There is a tremendous amount of collective wisdom that we can share with each other, and learn from others in the emergency management sector.”

In January and February 2020, the research team will be doing interviews with people across Canada working in the emergency planning sector. 

“If you have insights into the role of 211 in emergency management, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We would love to speak with you,” said Gidluck. “I can be reached at or by calling me at (306) 585-4084.

The research team hopes to have preliminary findings to share during Emergency Preparedness Week, an annual event that takes place during the first full week of May.  

This blog post is an introduction to one of PhiLab’s Western Hub’s research projects on United Way and 211 organizations in Emergency Management, which has both a National and Regional aspect. Find out more on the National research and Western Hub pages.