Executive Lead, Communications & Government Relations (CGR)

  • Ontario Nurses' Association
  • Sep 19, 2018
Full time Communications Executive

Job Description


Founded in 1973, the Ontario Nurses’ Association (ONA) is a leading health-care union representing more than 65,000 registered nurses and health professionals and 18,000 nursing student affiliates working in Ontario hospitals, long-term care facilities, public health, community, clinics and industry. ONA is committed to the advancement of the social, economic and general welfare of its members. ONA provides labour relations services that include representation of members to ensure their rights under the collective agreement are protected and negotiates the best possible terms and conditions of employment. ONA advocates for the highest standards of health care for all Ontarians. Looking to the future, ONA will continue to provide proactive strategies to raise the awareness of the value (including economic and patient benefits) of RNs with all stakeholders.


This is an opportunity to join the Senior Leadership Team of a dynamic and highly member-driven organization of healthcare champions and be responsible for providing vision and strategic leadership for ONA’s communications and marketing initiatives.  As the Leader of Communications & Government Relations (CGR), and working closely with the Senior Leadership Team, the President and the Board of Directors, this position ensures the integration and coordination of Communications and Government Relations activities in support of ONA’s reputation-building and stakeholder-relationship goals.

This critical role will be responsible for providing strategic advice and governance support to the Board of Directors and will provide leadership and direction in relation to effective, impactful public/government relations and communications services.



Strategic Communications Direction    

  • Develop a Strategic Communications Plan targeting all key stakeholders that levers ONA’s overall strategy and is consistent with the mission and vision of the organization.
  • Coordinate the implementation of the communication plan including public relations, government relations, stakeholder engagement, brand management, and marketing across a diverse range of platforms.
  • Initiate and maintain communications policies and processes to ensure consistent messaging and compatibility with overall strategic agenda and messages.
  • Crisis management: Monitor emerging issues that may have significant implications for risk or negative publicity for ONA and proactively advise senior leadership and other key stakeholders, as appropriate.

Government Relations

  • Monitor emerging trends in government policy and other activity and determine strategic opportunities to influence government in collaboration with the Board and senior leadership.
  • Provide expertise and leadership in the area of government engagement, building a profile of ONA within government that positions the organization as the voice of nurses on all relevant matters
  • Develop and nurture strategic relationships within government.
  • Plan, develop and implement government engagement strategies; facilitate an integrated approach to the development and integration of government engagement.
  • Represent ONA at various external groups and organizations, as required (e.g. Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions), and provide written reports on these and other activities, as requested.
  • Lead polling activities including polling coalitions with other unions and utilize findings to advance and influence communication with stakeholders.

Public Relations & Campaigns

  • Provide overall leadership for the refresh of the annual campaign, with a focus on a “new” brand of ONA, associated branding activities, and communications.
  • Oversee a range of public relations and marketing activities designed to promote the union, including public event support, presentations, special project management, collateral and background materials, and other public relations materials in all formats (print, electronic, video, premiums and incentives).
  • Direct the management of communications with the media and develop key messages for use by the Board of Directors and Leadership Teams.
  • Build public awareness campaigns around ONA’s community service work.

Membership Engagement & Support

  • Provide expertise and leadership in the area of membership engagement with a particular emphasis on building members capacity in local political action.
  • Lead communication interactions with the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions and other national groups.


  • Lead and manage a team of professional government relations and communications experts, ensuring a cohesive and coordinated approach to government relations, public relations, and communications both internally and externally.
  • Provide mentorship to staff in a manner that motivates, guides and supports employees to the realization of ONA’s values, goals, objectives and performance expectations; ensures a work environment that promotes staff participation, teamwork and positive employee relations.
  • Model the way in ensuring the team maintains excellent relationship-building skills with internal clients, the ONA Board, external partners and within government.


  • A minimum of five (5) years of management experience leading diverse teams.
  • A minimum of eight (8) years of experience in government relations in healthcare or an equivalent combination of experience and leadership.
  • Undergraduate university degree in a related field (e.g. Communications, Public Relations, Business Administration, Journalism). Master’s degree preferred.
  • Proven ability to work in high-pressure, fast-paced environments.
  • An understanding of the role and impact of unions in the 21st century and demonstrated knowledge of the labour movement.
  • Involvement in social activism and/or prior experience working in unionized environment.
  • Proven experience in managing a wide range of communication programs including media, web management and government relations activities.
  • Broad and extensive public relations/communications experience in a multi-stakeholder environment, preferably in the healthcare/public sector.
  • Solid background in integrating large, complex communications initiatives in a change environment.
  • Excellent knowledge of current communications theories, disciplines, techniques, best practice and planning methods.
  • Experience in policy development and interpretation.
  • Experience in group facilitation, presentation and project management.
  • Strong knowledge of media relations, public events and campaign planning.
  • Designations such as Communication Management Professional (CMP), Strategic Communication Management Professional (SCMP), or Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) are considered assets.
  • Member in good standing with the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) or International Association of Business Communications (IABC) is also considered an asset.
  • Certificate in Web Management an asset.
  • Proficient in the use of MS Office applications.
  • Bilingualism or ability to speak and write in French is an asset.
  • Frequent travel required provincially and between sites/regional offices.
  • The successful candidate must be able to travel, possess a valid driver’s license and have access to an automobile for business use.


  • A strategic thinker with superior relationship-building and advocacy skills.
  • Works respectfully, positively and collaboratively within a team environment; sharing experiences and lessons learned.
  • Superior communication and presentational skills, both oral and written.
  • Excellent leadership and people skills.
  • Communicates effectively with diverse groups of people.
  • Understanding and committed to quality service and best practices.
  • Ability to function and lead well in a high-paced, fluid environment.
  • Flexible and adaptable; willing and able to change priorities to meet team goals.
  • Self-directed with an ability to organize, plan, prioritize, and multi-task.


An experienced-based compensation and benefits package will be provided. 


Please submit your application by emailing your cover letter and résumé no later than October 14th, 2018 to: ONA@searchlightcanada.com.

The Ontario Nurses’ Association is committed to employment equity within its staff.

Applications are encouraged from equity groups including individuals of Indigenous descent, racialized individuals, individuals with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ persons. We also provide accessible employment practices that are in compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (‘AODA’).

 If you require accommodation for a disability during any stage of the recruitment process, please notify Human Resources at HumanResources@ona.org.

We thank applicants for their interest, however, only those advancing in the process will be contacted.

Job Category



Toronto, ON