A quick look under the hood of 211Ontario.ca


211’s telephone helpline and regional websites provide a gateway to community, social, non-clinical health and related government services.

The 211 Ontario 211 website classifies Services within a two-tier hierarchy:

Tier Classifier
1 Category of service
2 Sub-category of service


The 211 Ontario website also provides Details about Individual Organizations. In some cases, the Details about an Individual Organization concern one of its departments or programs.The mixing of different types of Details about Individual Organizations is a potential source of confusion.

The main value of the 211 Ontario website derives from the connections it asserts between Sub-categories of service and Details of individual organizations.

Soon we’ll explore the structure of 211 Ontario website using the tools of network science, the meaning of the 211 Ontario website using the tools of the Semantic Web. We’ll start here with some basic descriptions and statistics to get us oriented.

Categories of service

The Home Page of 211 Ontario’s  website includes a set of hyperlinks – with HREF attributes of the general form “http://211ontario.ca/topic/{var}” – that identify 18 distinct Categories of service:1

href attribute {var} Category of service
aboriginal-peoples Aboriginal Peoples
abuseassault Abuse/Assault
child-family-services Child / Family Services
community-programs Community Programs
disabilities Disabilities
emergency-crisis-services Emergency / Crisis Services
employment-training Employment / Training
food Food
francophones Francophones
government-legal Government / Legal
health-care Health Care
homelessness Homelessness
housing Housing
income-support Income Support
mental-health Mental Health
newcomers Newcomers
older-adults Older Adults
youth Youth


Sub-categories of service

Every URL associated with a Category of service resolves to a human-readable document which, in turn, includes a set of hyperlinks – with HREF attributes of the general form  “http://211ontario.ca/en/topic/Ontario/ ORGANIZATION/fht{nnn}/Ontario” – that identify a number of related Sub-categories of service:

Category of service Number of Sub-categories
Aboriginal Peoples 1
Abuse/Assault 6
Child/Family Services 10
Community Programs 9
Disabilities 15
Emergency/Crisis Services 10
Employment Training 16
Food 5
Francophones 1
Government/Legal 8
Health Care 15
Housing 6
Income Support 5
Mental Health 14
Newcomers 11
Older Adults 10
Youth 11
Total 158


A Sub-category of service may be associated with more than one Category of service – e. g. “Youth mental health” (fht322) is associated with both “Mental Health” and “Youth” – leaving us with 120 distinct Sub-categories of service:

href attribute Sub-category of service
fht254 Aboriginal peoples
fht263 Child abuse services
fht257 Counselling for abused women
fht258 Crisis lines for abused women
fht260 Sexual/Domestic assault treatment centres
fht261 Shelter for abused women
fht259 Victims of abuse support programs
fht262 Camps
fht264 Child care
fht265 Child mental health
fht96 Children with disabilities
fht266 Domestic abuse crisis services
fht326 Infant formula/Baby food
fht34 Parent/child programs
fht88 Pregnancy/Postnatal
fht267 Recreation for children/families
fht269 Community information
fht268 Community/Recreation centres
fht270 Computer access
fht281 Francophones
fht91 LGBTQ
fht271 Public libraries
fht272 United Way member agencies
fht273 Volunteer centres
fht97 Advocacy for people with disabilities
fht98 Assistive devices
fht6461 Disabilities employment programs
fht101 Disability associations
fht81 Health and developmental disabilities
fht67 Health and physical disabilities
fht102 Home repairs
fht302 Home support programs
fht103 Learning disabilities associations
fht327 Meals for seniors/people with disabilities
fht104 Ontario Disability Support Program
fht105 Parking permits for people with disabilities
fht106 Transportation for people with disabilities
fht95 Youth with disabilities
fht275 Crisis lines for abuse/violence
fht437 Distress lines
fht277 Elder abuse
fht278 Hospital emergency/Urgent care
fht279 In-person crisis services
fht141 Sexual assault support
fht280 Shelters for abuse
fht274 Victims of crime support programs
fht282 Academic upgrading
fht283 Adult literacy
fht284 Apprenticeship
fht54 Career counselling
fht286 Employer staffing assistance
fht58 International credentials
fht324 Internationally-trained professionals
fht61 Job search support/training
fht316 Mental health employment programs
fht289 Newcomer employment programs
fht65 Older workers
fht69 Self-employment/entrepreneurship
fht290 Summer employment
fht291 Work experience
fht292 Youth employment
fht142 Food banks
fht130 Free/low-cost meals
fht325 Home delivered meals
fht293 Community legal services
fht294 Consumer protection/Complaints
fht295 Elected officials
fht296 Human rights / Éducation
fht297 ID (identification)
fht298 Legal education/information
fht299 Service Canada sites
fht300 Service Ontario sites
fht301 Community Care Access Centres
fht80 Community health centres
fht83 Finding a medical professional
fht329 Home support programs
fht303 Hospice/palliative care
fht84 Hospitals
fht305 Long term care homes
fht107 Transportation to medical appointments
fht306 Walk-in medical clinics
fht90 Homeless/at-risk youth
fht328 Homeless meals
fht149 Homeless shelters
fht252 Street outreach
fht150 Help to find housing
fht330 Mental health housing programs
fht309 Retirement homes
fht310 Senior apartments
fht154 Supportive housing (semi-independent)
fht152 Transitional housing
fht220 Emergency financial assistance
fht221 Employment Insurance (EI)
fht311 Income programs for older adults
fht245 Social assistance
fht246 Workers compensation
fht312 Addiction counselling
fht313 Addiction support groups
fht314 Addiction treatment
fht315 Community mental health centres
fht307 Geriatric psychiatry
fht318 In-person crisis services
fht319 Psychiatric hospitals
fht321 Support groups
fht322 Youth mental health
fht131 Consulates/Embassies
fht287 English as a second language
fht288 French as a second language
fht331 Immigration/Sponsorship
fht332 Interpretation/Translation
fht438 Language Instruction for Newcomers in Canada (LINC)
fht334 Refugees
fht335 Settlement services
fht6457 Recreation for older adults
fht108 Transportation for older adults
fht6459 Recreation for youth
fht145 Shelters for youth
fht93 Young parents
fht5989 Youth advocacy/legal help
fht5990 Youth mental health


85 (70.8%) unique Sub-categories of service are associated with just one Category of service; 32 (26.7%) with two; and 3 (2.5%) with three.


Every URL associated with a Sub-category of service resolves to a human-readable document which, in turn, includes a set of hyperlinks – with HREF attributes of the general form “http://211ontario.ca/detail/en/{id}” – to Details of individual organizations that provide the service.

Every URL associated with a Detail of an individual organization resolves to a human-readable document that may describe an entire organization or one or more of its sub-components. The 211 Ontario website contains 29,909 distinct documents corresponding to these Details of individual organizations.

Service<–>Organization Connections

The 211 Ontario database makes 74,585 connections between some Sub-category of service and some Detail about an individual organization. The number of connections made between a given Detail of an individual organization and a Sub-category of service ranges from 1 to 19 – see Table 1 and Figure 1. We see that 16,177 (54.09%) of the Details of individual organizations are connected to just one Sub-category of service. The distinction of being connected to the greatest number of Sub-categories of service belongs to “Pinecrest-Queensway Community Health Centre. Ottawa – Richmond Rd. Social Services.”

Connections to Sub-categories of service Number of Details of Organizations Percent Cumulative Percent
1 16,177 54.09% 54.09%
2 7,885 26.36% 80.45%
3 2,833 9.47% 89.92%
4 1,285 4.30% 94.22%
5 752 2.51% 96.73%
6 378 1.26% 98.00%
7 212 0.71% 98.71%
8 119 0.40% 99.10%
9 113 0.38% 99.48%
10 49 0.16% 99.65%
11 38 0.13% 99.77%
12 18 0.06% 99.83%
13 15 0.05% 99.88%
14 11 0.04% 99.92%
15 11 0.04% 99.96%
16 7 0.02% 99.98%
17 4 0.01% 99.99%
18 1 0.00% 100.00%
19 1 0.00% 100.00%
Total 29,909

Table 1.

Number of Details of Organizations loading on nSub-categories of service
Figure 1.

In Table 2 and Figure 2 we see that 44 (36.67%) distinct Sub-categories of service are connected with 0 – 199 Details of individual organizations. The distinction of being connected to the largest number of Details of individual organizations (2918) belongs to “Child care” (fht264).

Number of Details
of Organizations
Number of Sub-
categories of service
Percent Cumulative Percent
0 to 199 44 36.67% 36.67%
200 to 399 25 20.83% 57.50%
400 to 599 19 15.83% 73.33%
600 to 799 13 10.83% 84.17%
800 to 999 8 6.67% 90.83%
1000 to 1199 2 1.67% 92.50%
1200 to 1399 2 1.67% 94.17%
1400 to 1599 1 0.83% 95.00%
1600 to 1799 1 0.83% 95.83%
1800 to 1999 0 0.00% 95.83%
2000 to 2199 3 2.50% 98.33%
2200 to 2399 0 0.00% 98.33%
2400 to 2599 1 0.83% 99.17%
2600 to 2799 0 0.00% 99.17%
2800 to 2999 1 0.83% 100.00%
Total 120

Table 2.

Graph nSub-categories of service connecting to rangeOrganizations
Figure 2.

  1. The statistics reported here pertain to the state of the 211 Ontario website on or about September 28, 2014. For now our discussion is limited to web resources in English; 211 Ontario is working to provide French-language versions of these resources – the root URL of current French-language resources is “http://211ontario.ca/fr/