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Centre advocates for seniors, right down to its James Bond phone number

March, 2011

Information is power, says Lorraine Lebeau, executive director of the Information and Referral Centre of Greater Montreal. Which is what makes the number of the centre’s special help line for seniors—514 527-0007—so easy to remember.

“This number was chosen by a group of seniors,” Lebeau says. “They asked if this number was available because they thought of it as a power number. It made them think of James Bond instead of a bitter helpless person.” Like all the telephone lines at the centre, it operates in both official languages. What makes it special to seniors is that when you leave a message, someone calls you back, eliminating the electronic labyrinth of voice-mail instructions.

Since it was launched in 1956, the centre has provided free confidential information and referral service to the public, providing a crucial link between the questions and problems of individuals, and the services that exist to help them but that they can’t access. “The first year, we received 800 calls,” Lebeau says. “In 2010, there were 40,000 calls concerning physical and mental health, as well as legal problems.”

One disturbing trend is that the number of calls seeking food assistance is rising, Lebeau says. “We have a number of people with low income, but we receive requests from people from all walks of life in financial crisis. There is a new situation of poverty that we are not used to.”

Lebeau warns that as the demographic shifts to increasing numbers of older people, society has to be prepared.

“We will have to be very inventive, respectful, and we will need a lot of watchdogs, associations of elderly people, to make sure the rights of seniors are always taken care of.”

The centre’s main information line, 514-527-1375, is in operation 24/7. For particular questions regarding drugs, there is the Drug Help and Referral Line at 514-527-2626 or for compulsive gambling, the Gambling Help and Referral Line at 514-527-0140.



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