A new survey says a majority of Canadians believe prostitution should be completely decriminalized, with British Columbians voicing the strongest approval.

According to a survey by Angus Reid Public Opinion, 53 per cent of Canadians support making it legal to run a bawdy house and solicit, while 24 per cent of people believe prostitution should be made a criminal act.

In B.C., 57 per cent believed the government should not block the sale of sex, while only 18 per cent supported a complete ban.

"The idea of consensual prostitution is something that is definitely resonating and a lot of people think that is the way to go," said pollster Mario Canseco.

The poll comes as an Ontario court is deliberating whether to allow an appeal of a ruling that threw out Canada's prostitution laws. The poll was provided to CTV News in advance of its public release.

Currently, selling sex is legal, but negotiating a price, living off the avails of prostitution and running a bawdy house are all illegal.

Two-thirds of men believed those activities should be decriminalized, while only 16 per cent supported prohibiting prostitution entirely. Fourteen per cent thought we should continue with the status quo, while four per cent were not sure.

Women were much more divided in the response, though a greater proportion of them favoured decriminalization, at 41 per cent. Some 31 per cent believed prostitution should be prohibited.

"It's a question of exploitation," said Canseco. "Women tend to believe that if you're working in the sex trade industry, you're doing it not of your free will."

However, when it came to a question of improving women's safety, women were more likely to support decriminalization, he said.

A majority of Canadians over 35 supported decriminalization, while only 43 per cent of Canadians under 35 supported such a measure.

The poll was conducted by two separate surveys of 1,002 and 1,009 Canadians between June 21 and June 29. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Before the survey questions were asked, seven out of ten Canadians admitted believing that prostitution was already illegal.

"When people think something is illegal they're more likely to think is should be illegal," said Simon Fraser University criminologist John Lowman. "Which means the support for decriminalization might be stronger than it appeared."