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'Our industry is going through a difficult time right now and our employees are being hit especially hard by recent events,' said Geoff Molson, owner, president and CEO, seen here on June 11, 2019.

Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

The Montreal Canadiens announced an assistance program on Sunday for their 1,200 game-day employees without work after the National Hockey League suspended its season in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our industry is going through a difficult time right now and our employees are being hit especially hard by recent events,” said Geoff Molson, owner, president and CEO. “The Montreal Canadiens and Laval Rocket are deploying the means necessary to reduce the impact of this unique situation on our employees, whom I wish to sincerely thank for their collaboration and understanding.”

Event staff who aren’t eligible to receive employment insurance will get 75 per cent of the salary for the rest of the regular season of the Canadiens (four games) and the American Hockey League’s Rocket (eight games).

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Any employees eligible to receive employment insurance will have their benefits topped up by 40 per cent so the employees will receive 95 per cent of their regular pay for the remaining games.

Topping up to 95 per cent is the maximum allowed by Service Canada for the employees to be eligible for full employment insurance benefits.

The Canadiens’ plans are similar to those rolled out by the Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, and Vancouver Canucks earlier this week for their NHL teams and other properties.

The Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets have announced they do not intend to have assistance programs for their event staff.

The Ottawa Senators haven’t made any decisions on the issue.

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