Know When to Call 9-1-1 & 3-1-1

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 4:25 p.m. August 29, 2017

Toronto Police and City of Toronto staff are at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) to remind Torontonians there are a few numbers to remember when you need help.

A girl in a police hat standing beside a police car
Children had the chance to play in the new police scout car while learning when to call 9-1-1 at the Canadian National Exhibition

If it’s an emergency, call 9-1-1. It could be a fire, a crime in progress or a medical emergency.

If it’s not an emergency, but requires police, Torontonians are asked to call 416-808-2222.

But, many times, citizens should call 3-1-1 for animal services such as a dog locked in a car or bylaw enforcement for a noisy neighbour.

All three numbers are available 24 hours a day, every day.

For the first time, police 9-1-1 operators and City 3-1-1 members staffed a booth at the CNE to educate the public about the numbers they call. Launched in 2009, 3-1-1 is a catch-all number for city information and services.

"The more we can have people calling the right resources, the better effectiveness we can have as a police service and as city staff,” said Chief Mark Saunders, who spent time at the CNE on August 29 to talk 9-1-1 and 3-1-1 response. “Having strong partnerships to enhance community safety is what this message is all about and the feedback has been great.”

A flyer with text: Who Should you call. Call 3-1-1 City Services. If it is not an emergency, call 3-1-1. 3-1-1 Toronto provides non-emergency city services and programs such as animal services, permits and licences, child care, garbage and recycling, utility bills, pot hole repairs, front yard permit parking, graffiti, noise and more. 311 Toronto calls are answered 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. 311 Toronto can offer assistance in more than 180 languages.
Or Call 9-1-1 Emergency Services. If it is an emergency, call 9-1-1. When there is a risk to life or property such as a person with a gun/weapon, robberies, assaults in progress. Call for medical emergencies including heart attacks, allergic reactions or unconscious person. Call for fire emergencies. Call for significant auto collisions.
416-808-2222 for non-emergency police matters.
It's important to take learn the right number to call to access emergency and city services

When there is a risk to life such as a person with a gun/weapon, robberies, assaults in progress, medical and fire emergencies and significant auto collisions, calls should be directed to 9-1-1.

3-1-1 Toronto provides access to information about non-emergency city services and programs, such as animal services permits and licenses, recycling and pothole repairs.

“This is all about trying to get people to call the right number and ask for the right thing, so they are not tying up life-threatening emergency lines,” said Michelle Everest of Communications Services. “We want people to know there is an alternative. We can’t keep faulting people for something they may not know. This is why we are here as part of the education process.”

She says it’s a matter of life and death when it comes to ensuring there is no wait for callers to 9-1-1. 

Gary Yorke, the City of Toronto 3-1-1 director, attended the public awareness booth.

“We want people to know we have a strong relationship with the police and we are here to serve the public,” he said. “We are aligned in making sure we do the right thing for our public.”

A woman holds a flyer
Communications Operator Michelle Everest is helping Torontonians understand where to call for police and city services
A man in TPS uniform in a cardboard cutout
Chief Mark Saunders had some fun at the CNE while delivering a message of when to call 9-1-1
TPS crest watermark