- A survey of public health nurses (PHNs) who work in official public health units in Ontario was undertaken to determine whether their perceptions of their roles and activities concurred with a 1990 Canadian Public Health Association report which describes the roles and qualifications of public health nursing in Canada. The survey questionnaire was completed by 1,849 PHNs in all 42 public health units (response rate = 85%). About one tenth of the PHNs reported no activity as a caregiver/service provider. Most PHNs reported being active in the roles of educator/consultant, social marketer, and facilitator/communicator/collaborator. The community developer, policy formulator, research/evaluator, and resource manager/planner/coordinator roles were less frequently performed, however, increased activities in such roles were expected in the future. Nurses said that they needed further preparation to perform the latter roles. These results have implications for deployment of PHNs as Ontario's health system shifts to community health and health promotion.