NEWS
04/25/2014 01:04 EDT | Updated 06/25/2014 05:59 EDT

Foreign workers hired to fill more than just fast-food jobs, Jason Kenney says

Shutting down the Temporary Foreign Worker Program would have negative consequences for the Canadian economy, says Employment Minister Jason Kenney.

Kenney announced late Thursday an immediate moratorium on the fast-food industry's access to the program, following a series of stories by CBC's Go Public alleging to show abuses in the program.

The minister took to Twitter following his announcement Thursday to say that Canadian employers hire temporary foreign workers to fill more than just jobs in the food sector and that shutting down the program entirely would have "vast" and "negative consequences" for the economy.

Kenney is in Vancouver on Friday, and is expected to answer questions about the program following a separate and unrelated announcement. CBCNews.ca will carry the event LIVE starting at 1p.m. ET.

"Shutting down the TFWP would be for our trade in services what closing our borders to imports would be to our trade in goods," Kenney said in a post on Twitter.

New Democrats welcomed the minister's decision to suspend the program in the food-services industry, calling it "a positive step," but urged him to take further action.

“Now that Jason Kenney has finally taken some action ... he must follow it up with a commitment to launch an independent review of the unending problems with this program," said NDP critic for employment Jinny Sims in a written statement.

When members of Parliament return to Ottawa next week, the NDP says it will use its opposition day in the House of Commons on Tuesday to move a motion to address the alleged abuses with the program.

The NDP motion would call on the government to put a moratorium on use of the program for low-skilled jobs, and the auditor general to lead an independent review of the program.

Liberal immigration critic John McCallum asked the auditor general to audit the program on Tuesday, saying it could shed light on whether "the program is being used to displace Canadian workers or drive down wages."