MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens are reducing their workforce during the COVID-19 crisis.

Groupe CH, which also owns the American Hockey League's Laval Rocket, says it will proceed with a temporary reduction in personnel, impacting 60 per cent of the organization's employees.

The reduction will start Monday.

"This decision was necessary given the significant impact the pandemic has had on the sports and entertainment industries," the news release read.

Groupe CH says it has established a $6-millon assistance fund to help employees. The organization says the fund will help enhance employment insurance benefits for eight weeks, ensuring that employees will receive 80 per cent of their base salary for that period.

The fund also will provide loans to employees in difficult financial situations.

"We are working extremely hard to limit the impact this situation will have on our employees. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our employees for their understanding and patience," said Groupe CH owner, president and CEO Geoff Molson.

The NHL and AHL suspended their seasons earlier this month.