SASKATOON -- Digging through snow and bending down to pick up dog poop might not be the most glamorous of jobs, but for Poo Crew there weren’t many difficulties finding staff until the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“The last two springs have been super difficult to find qualified candidates that want to get the boots on and actually do some work,” said founder of Poo Crew Daniel Diment.

Poo Crew operates in six locations across Canada, including Saskatoon, picking up dog poop from peoples’ properties. The business has a few full time employees with several part time employees.

“It's hard to get great qualified people that actually want to get out there and work when they're getting free money basically, two grand from the government,” said Diment.

The federal government rolled out the Canadian Emergency Recovery Benfit (CERB), which transitioned into Employment Insurance in the fall, helping Canadians get through the tough times. The Employment Insurance package provides workers with $500 per week for those who are not employed or self-employed due to COVID-19.

An analysis of federal data by The Canadian Press shows that the city had on average 53,330 recipients during each four-week pay period for the pandemic aid last year. The city of Saskatoon had about 13.18 per cent of its residents receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) last year.

“(We) on boarded a scooper, working with us for three weeks, CERB comes out, and she quits,” Diment said.

The Poo Crew hires people for part-time work paying them between $22-37 an hour plus gratuities. Currently, he says they need two more employees.

“You've got potential employees who have the option of receiving perhaps guaranteed benefits or income through a government program, they need to weigh that against pursuing employment,” said Dean of the University of Saskatchewan School of Business Keith Willoughby

Willoughy believes this is a great example of opportunity costs.

“Individuals are making decisions, having to weigh the various factors against each other.”

He says those factors could include wage rates, travel, the possibility of different equipment that would need to be purchased, as well as employment scheduling.

For Diment, who says business is booming, he would like to see more people consider the job.