MONTREAL -- Milano's, the iconic grocery store in Little Italy, is closing on Mondays for the first time in its history.

The reason: labour shortage.

Owner Mario Zaurini said the pandemic caused a huge reduction in his workforce.

"Since last year, the beginning of the pandemic, a lot of people were scared to work with the masks," "A lot of students didn't want to come to work; they were scared. Other people didn't want to wear the masks."

Zaurini said the market lost even more staff when the federal government introduced the CERB payments.

"We went through that year, last year, with great difficulty," he said. "Business was good, but we were short on staff."

In 2021, Zaurini said it's been even worse with staff choosing unemployment insurance rather than work.

He said the market is short around 40 employees.

Zaurini said he pays more than minimum wage and gives bonuses for staff who want to work more hours.

The market was still having trouble filling shifts, so they decided to close Mondays.

Zaurini said the situation is not unique to Milano's.

"I don't know what the governments are thinking, but I think they went a bit too far with paying people to stay at home," he said. "They should have taken out a program that if they work they'd give them a dollar or two dollars more in pay."