Fewer Canadians trust the Conservative government than they did a year ago, according to a new public opinion poll.

A survey conducted by Nanos Research for CTV and The Globe and Mail found that 41 per cent of people said they trusted Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government less than they did one year ago.

Nearly half, 49 per cent, trusted it about the same amount, and six per cent said they had more trust for the Tories. Another four per cent were unsure.

Even among the Conservative voters contacted by the pollsters, more than a quarter (26.2 per cent) said they had less trust for the government.

"Even among core Conservative supporters, there's been an erosion of trust," Nik Nanos told CTV News Thursday night.

Trust in the government fell most sharply in Quebec, where 49.3 per cent of respondents said they trusted it less, and in Atlantic Canada, at 47.9 per cent.

With an election call widely expected within days, the poll also asked people whether it was more important to respondents to have a government working to manage the economy, or one with a good record of accountability and transparency.

Respondents to the survey were evenly split on the two priorities, with 48 per cent preferring accountability and 47 per cent leaning towards good economic management.

"It looks like one of those two issues is going to be the ballot box question," said Nanos.

"Depending on how these numbers play out, this could be a leading indicator as to who will have the upper hand. If it's about jobs, the Conservatives will have the upper hand. If it's about ethics and accountability, then the opposition parties will be able to take a run at the government."

Only five per cent of those surveyed were unsure which government priority they preferred.

Support for a government focusing on the economy was highest in Quebec (52.4 per cent) and transparency was most popular in the Prairie provinces (56.1 per cent).

The Nanos researchers contacted 1,216 randomly selected adults across the country by telephone, between March 12 and March 15.

The poll is considered accurate within 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The Conservatives have presented themselves as the top stewards of Canada's economy, ahead of Tuesday's budget and a potential election trigger expected Friday, as MPs respond to a report that found the government in contempt.

The Opposition parties have concentrated their attacks on the government over its spending and ethics.

A Nanos poll released last week found that 30 per cent of Canadians saw the Conservatives as the most trusted in terms of economic policy. Only 21 per cent chose the Liberals, and 16 per cent the NDP.

But 25 per cent of those surveyed were unsure or would not answer that question.