MONTREAL -- Via Rail will temporarily lay off 1,000 unionized staff across the country after the decline in ridership resulting from the the COVID-19 pandemic.

In making the announcement on Wednesday afternoon, the Crown Corporation said affected employees will be notified and that departures will take effect on July 24. 

The breakdown of layoffs by different regions was not immediately available.

Via Rail had 3,234 active employees at the end of December, according to its most recent annual report,

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company faced disruptions due to nationwide rail blockades in support of protesters opposing a pipeline project in northern British Columbia.

Despite "recent positive developments" surrounding the resumption of its service, it will take time to regain traffic similar to before the health crisis, said Via Rail president and CEO Cynthia Garneau in a statement.

The company's head office is in Montreal. The city also houses one of Via Rail's four maintenance centres.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2020.