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988 initiative

Supporting 988 and deprecating seven-digit dialing

The CRTC is directing telecommunications service providers (TSPs) to transition away from seven-digit local dialling to ten-digit local dialling by May 31st, 2023. This direction is to support the introduction of 9-8-8 as the three-digit abbreviated dialling code for mental health crisis and suicide prevention services on November 30th, 2023.

Current mental health hotline

Currently, Talk Suicide Canada 1-833-456-4566, offers bilingual voice support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. When residents of Quebec call Talk Suicide Canada, they are automatically rerouted to the provincial suicide prevention hotline, 1-866-APPELLE, which is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year

When a person is in a mental health crisis situation, remembering or finding the correct seven or ten-digit number can be especially daunting and can prevent a person from receiving the assistance they may urgently need.

What is the 988 initiative?

The availability of an easily recognized and remembered three-digit abbreviated dialing code (three-digit code) will significantly improve access to crisis management services.

In addition, the availability of a three-digit code would work towards removing the stigma associated with seeking help for mental health crises or with suicide prevention counselling.

Given the nature of the services that would be reached through 9-8-8, it is critical that the selected call routing arrangement minimizes the risk of routing errors to the fullest extent possible.

988 Initiative History

In late 2020, a petition advocating for the launch of 9-8-8, or another three-digit number, for mental health crisis and suicide prevention services was circulated in Canada. The petition garnered over 30,000 signatures.

A motion to establish a national suicide prevention hotline that consolidates all suicide crisis numbers into one easy-to-remember three-digit hotline accessible to all Canadians was passed unanimously in the House of Commons on the 11th of December, 2020.

Removing 7‑digit dialling

To ensure the proper routing of such a significant service, the CRTC is directing each telecommunications service provider to transition away from allowing 7-digit dialling to ten-digit local dialling.

net2phone Canada will be removing seven-digit dialling as an option on March 1st, 2023. This will give us ample time to ensure full compliance in advance of the CRTC cut-off date.

What do you need to do to support this change?

You will need to check your contact lists and update any contacts that only have seven-digit numbers.

  1. Go to the SONAR login page and enter your credentials

  2. Click on the Contacts tab
    1. Office managers and call center supervisors must be in the "My Account" view to access the Contacts tab.

  3. Look through your list of contacts for any external numbers that only have seven-digits
    1. Three-digit external extensions do not need to be updated.

  4. For contacts that need to be updated, click the pencil icon on the right-hand side of the contact to bring up the edit content prompt

  5. Update all contact numbers to include ten digits (in most cases this will mean adding the area code)

  6. Moving forward any ad-hoc dialling will need to be in a ten-digit format

These instructions can be found on net2phone Canada academy for easy sharing across your organization.

If you’re unsure about any of the changes above, please reach out to our customer success team (