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About 811

What is 811 used for in Canada?

8-1-1 is a free-of-charge provincial health information and advice phone line available in British Columbia. HealthLink BC operates this phone line. Health BC is a part of the Ministry of Health. Dialing 811 connects you with a nurse in case of a non-urgent health issue. The translation is available in over 130 languages for non-emergency situations only.


However, it is crucial to call 9-1-1 or head straight to the emergency room in case of a severe issue or emergency.

The 811 service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. 8-1-1 connects you with a health service navigator, who can help you find health information and services or connect you directly with a registered nurse, a registered dietitian, a qualified exercise professional, or a pharmacist. Any of these healthcare professionals will help you get the information you need to manage your health concerns.


How a call is handled An 811 call lasts 12 to 16 minutes on average. The call takes place in 3 or 4 steps. The nurse:

  • Collects certain personal information

  • Assesses your needs

  • Responds to your needs

  • Refers you to an appropriate resource, if necessary

Collection of personal information:

Upon calling, the burse asks for some personal information like;

  • first and last name

  • date of birth

  • postal code

  • Number to call back in case needed.

All the personal information collected remains confidential. However, if you wish not to do so, mention it to the nurse.


Assessment of your needs:

The nurse listens to you and inquires about your circumstance. She then gathers the data required to comprehend your requirements better and make your proposal clear. The nurse then evaluates the circumstance to identify any urgent issues, the severity of the situation, and the best course of action.


Response to your needs:

The nurse informs you about the health issue. She may also advise you (caregiver/parent/guardian) on steps to monitor any changes in the condition or improve your health.


Referral to an appropriate resource: If necessary, the nurse will point you toward a facility (a medical clinic) where you can obtain the treatment or services you need.


For deaf or hard of hearing, contact HealthLinkBC at 8-1-1 using Video Relay Services (VRS) or Teletypewriter (TTY).


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