MONTREAL -- The group behind the Just for Laughs festival has temporarily laid off more than three-quarters of its workforce in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The layoffs affect artists as well as permanent, temporary and contractual employees of the company, Groupe Juste pour rire said in a press release. The company did not specify the exact number of employees affected.

The situation is changing rapidly and becoming more and more critical for the industry and the company, said Groupe Juste pour rire president and CEO Charles Décarie said, so the company had to take 'all necessary measures' in order to stabilize its situation and ensure the sustainability of its activities.

“We are currently working hard to ensure that everyone can come back when the storm has finally passed. If we, unfortunately, have to carry out these rigorous measures, it is, of course, to protect jobs in the future,” he said.

Groupe Juste pour rire announced earlier this week the cancellation of the musical 'Kinky Boots', which was set to be presented in Montreal and Quebec City this summer.

Just for Laughs, however, clarified that its comedy festival, which is expected to kick off in July, is still on the calendar and that the situation is being assessed from day to day

Groupe Juste pour rire also said that it continues to bring people together on digital platforms such as YouTube by further feeding its French-language humor channel, Juste pour rire, continuously.