Canadians are split on whether the government should continue to cut spending or stimulate the economy, a new CTV News/Ipsos Reid poll suggests.

The poll surveyed Canadians on their federal budget priorities and expectations last week, days before Flaherty delivered the 2014 federal budget Tuesday.

The poll found that 53 per cent of Canadians believe Ottawa "should focus on spending less to tackle the deficit," while 47 per cent think the government should "focus on spending more to stimulate the economy."

The desire for economic stimulus through spending is up five points from 2012, the poll found.

Economic prosperity, resources for PTSD

A large majority of Canadians (84 per cent) agree that economic growth and job creation need to be the number one priority for the Canadian government.

As well, 85 per cent agree that more resources should be allocated for veterans and soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, the poll found. The issue of PTSD among veterans and Canadian soldiers has been in the news recently following a string of suicides.

In terms of taxes, 48 per cent of poll respondents said they expect to pay lower taxes as a result of the federal budget. This is up from 2012, when only 27 per cent of Canadians expected to pay lower taxes as a result of that year's federal budget

Conservatives losing edge on fiscal matters?

While the Conservatives have long proclaimed they are the best managers of the economy, the poll found that Canadians see no party as having the advantage when it comes to delivering a federal budget.

The poll suggests that 34 per cent of respondents said the Conservatives would produce the best budget, tied with the Liberals (34 per cent), and the NDP trailing closely behind (33 per cent).

However, when asked if they trust Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives to "make the right choices to ensure the next Federal Budget is fair and reasonable and in the best interest of Canadians," only 34 per cent of respondents agreed.

A slim majority of Canadians (54 per cent) disapproved of the federal government's overall management of the economy.

Healthcare, economy rated as "high" priorities

The poll also asked respondents to rate 12 possible budget priorities as "high," "moderate" and "low."

Healthcare and the economy are important budget priorities, the poll found, with 69 per cent and 61 per cent of Canadians rating them as a high priorities respectively.

However, the importance of the other possible budget priorities was less clear cut.

Here's the breakdown of other budget priorities and what percentage of  respondents rated them as "high priorities":

  • Lowering taxes (40 per cent)
     
  • Support for seniors (35 per cent)
     
  • Balancing the budget (33 per cent)
     
  • Reducing the income gap (32 per cent)
     
  • Investing in social programs (31 per cent)
     
  • Infrastructure spending (30 per cent)
     
  • The environment (28 per cent)
     
  • Support for veterans and soldiers (23 per cent)
     
  • Transfer payments to the provinces (9 per cent)
     
  • Military and defence spending (8 per cent)

The poll, which was conducted between Feb. 4 -7, surveyed 1,025 Canadians online. It is accurate to within 3.5 percentage points.