PARKSVILLE -- Some employers in the mid-island's hospitality industry say they're having a hard time finding employees during the pandemic, in large part because they believe workers would rather stay home collecting government subsidies than find employment.

Joey Day is ready to open up a new food truck business in Coombs on June 24. But, he says he can't find a front-window employee and is shocked with what potential employees are telling him.

"We can stay at home and not do anything and collect the COVID [benefit],” said Day.

“But $16 an hour is a good starting wage and if you're good at what you do, there will be more,” he said of his business.

He thinks the federal government's Community Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is backfiring.

"It's not fair, I know lots of people along this business route here that are having a tough time getting people, because of Justin Trudeau's free money," said Day.

It's a similar situation at Parksville's Five Star Wholesale where owner Mark Chandler has been advertising positions through a number of mediums.

"It scares me that we have a group of students that would want to follow that scenario. I think my mom and dad would have kicked me off the couch in about two minutes flat," said Chandler.

He's looking for a driver, an inside worker plus someone for weekends. He says the situation is a complete reversal of 2019.

"There's just no pool of employees. I remember last year we had people knocking on our door looking for work," said Chandler.

But the Member of Parliament for Courtenay-Alberni, Gord Johns, says he believes most people are eager to get back to work, but may have some safety concerns over their return.

"What we're hearing from people and workers especially is they want to make sure that when they go back to work they have a safe work environment and that they have supports in place," Johns told CTV News.

He says inadequate childcare support or taking care of elderly family members could also be factors that are keeping workers from returning.