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Canadians are telling governments not to let the recession become an excuse for easing up on efforts to protect the environment, a new opinion poll suggests.

The finding in The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey suggests that while voters are worried about the economy, they do not want governments to ease off on measures to protect the environment.

On the key question, 67 per cent said the environment should be just as much as priority for governments as tackling economic problems, with only 26 per cent saying it was a secondary concern.

The result was generally shared among Canadians, regardless of gender, annual salary, political affiliation or where they live. However, men, Conservative supporters and those in the West were most likely to say the economy is the top priority. Even among Tory supporters, 53 per cent felt the environment should not take a back seat to the economy.

Most respondents also felt governments are not doing enough on the environment, with 74 per cent saying governmental focus is not going far enough.

Harris-Decima vice president Jeff Walker said the results are somewhat surprising, since it is generally the case that other issues often go on the back burner in tough economic times. That doesn't appear to be the mood of Canadians now, even though more than 400,000 jobs have vanished since October and economists and politicians warn unemployment will likely increase in the next few months.

"In contrast to prevailing views that environmental efforts recede in a recession, Canadians ... overwhelmingly believe much more can and should be done," he said.

The survey of 1,000 people, conducted in the last week of July, is considered to be accurate to within 3.1 percentage points, 19 times in 20.