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LGBTQ+ Caucus Chair talks new initiatives, favourite traditions in Q&A

Publish date: Wednesday, June 09, 2021 update

Screenshot of Zoom call with Roncal and Ben-Ari

Timna Ben-Ari, Labour Relations Specialist and the staff support for the union’s Equity Caucuses/Circle and its Equity Committee, recently sat down with Patrick Roncal, Chair of the LGBTQ+ Caucus, for a question-and-answer session on what’s new in the LGBTQ+ Caucus, what is coming up in the next year, and how the Caucus stayed connected during the pandemic. 

TBA: Tell me more about you and your work! What’s your position in the Ontario Public Service and what AMAPCEO roles are you involved with? What fills your time outside of work?

PR: In the OPS, I am an Analytics Lead at the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development. I love being involved with AMAPCEO! I have been the Chair of the LGBTQ+ Caucus since the pandemic started in 2020. I also am a Workplace Representative, Health and Safety Representative, AMERC member, sit on our new member welcoming committee, and I’m a delegate for University/Toronto South District. All of which has allowed me to grow my skillset while advocating for my colleagues.

Outside of work, some of my personal hobbies include curling and improv theatre in Toronto.

TBA: Tell me more about the LGBTQ+ Caucus. What’s new this year? How have you adapted during the pandemic?

PR: Our Caucus is one of many within the union, and we connect with the AMAPCEO Equity Committee, which is led by Vice-President Cynthia Watt. The Caucuses have a shared mandate of advancing equity and fostering inclusion in the union. The LGBTQ+ Caucus is ideal for members of the LGBTQ+ community in AMAPCEO who are looking to meet and connect with others, have fun, and share ideas!

This year the LGBTQ+ Caucus was excited to begin hosting a series of virtual Fireside Chats. We were happy to create opportunities for casual conversation and serendipity during a time when many people felt disconnected. Our inaugural fireside chat was about “coming out” and these thoughtful and informal discussions were centered around self-reflection, connecting with others, and community resilience. We explored themes affecting our community and share our own experiences and stories.

We are looking forward to welcoming more members of the LGBTQ+ Caucus to our next Fireside Chat, which will be held online on July 16, 2021 at noon ET.

TBA: What LGBTQ+ Caucus achievements are you most proud of?

PR: We had a lot of fun being involved with Inside Out 2SLGBTQ+ Film Festival in 2020! AMAPCEO has traditionally sponsored the festival, and building off that tradition, the LGBTQ+ Caucus and President's Office coordinated a virtual movie night. Members of the AMAPCEO LGBTQ+ Caucus watched the short film I Really Like You, a series of seven cinematic shorts each centering on the theme of coming of age. We were happy to sponsor Inside Out again in 2021 and are looking forward to sharing the highlights of this year’s event shortly!

I am also very proud of the Equity Caucuses’ role in consulting on the AMAPCEO submission to OPS Inclusive Workplace Policy and Program Review, led by Cynthia Watt, Allison Griggs, and Benjamin Rossiter. The submissions were focused on providing recommendations for updates to policies that would enable the OPS to more effectively address systemic discrimination and harassment, and create and sustain respectful workplaces. The Caucuses were instrumental in representing the voice for our communities and sharing our experiences to help inform the direction of the review.  

TBA: Can you tell me more about how your Caucus is involved with community engagement?

PR: AMAPCEO makes several donations and sponsorships to charity and community initiatives annually. Through District submissions, AMAPCEO sponsored $22,319 between September and December of 2020. Of those submissions, the LGBTQ+ Caucus recommended that The 519 community centre (College Park District) and Windsor Pride (Western Ontario – Windsor District) receive community sponsorships, which were approved. These donations are a great, tangible way to give back to the community and we feel extremely proud to have the opportunity to contribute through our recommendations.

TBA: What does the Caucus mean to you? What message would you like to leave with your Caucus members or others considering joining the LGBTQ+ Caucus?

PR: The Caucuses are great safe space for members of equity groups, which is so important for building a sense of community during this complicated time. All of this great work is also driven by members like you! Whether you want to connect with others in a social way or if you want to be part of initiatives for equity and justice, we hope that you check us out. Being part of this Caucus has been so rewarding and a lot of fun.

Interested in joining the AMAPCEO LGBTQ+ Caucus or another Equity Caucus/Circle? Sign up here!

Look for our interview with Indigenous Circle Chair Tim Sim in next week’s Weekly Member News.

More about AMAPCEO and our Members: Established in 1992, AMAPCEO is a bargaining agent that represents 14,000 professional and supervisory public servants, most of whom work directly for the Government of Ontario in every ministry and in a number of agencies, boards and commissions; in 130 communities throughout Ontario and in 12 cities outside Canada. We also represent employees outside the Ontario Public Service in: the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario; the Ontario Arts Council; Ontario Health (Quality Unit); Public Health Ontario; the Waypoint Mental Health Centre in Penetanguishene; and in the former Offices of the Ontario Child Advocate and the French Language Services Commissioner (now part of the Ontario Ombudsman).