Kitchener's Everest College is among 14 branches in Ontario that were shut down Thursday.
'There were a lot of teary-eyed people.' - Eduarda Cabral, Everest College graduate
The superintendent of private career colleges, the independent regulator that governs schools like Everest and others in the province, said it has suspended the chain's licence to operate in Ontario as a private college, effective immediately.
In a statement, the ministry said the superintendent can "propose to revoke a private career college's registration if she is no longer satisfied that it can be expected to be financially responsible in its operation as a private career college, considering its current financial position."
No other reason for the shutdown was given.
As of midday Thursday, students at the Kitchener location said their classes had been suspended, but had no other information.
Corinthian Colleges, which owns Everest College in Canada, said in an email to CBC News that it was surprised by the move, because "we have been working with the ministry for the past several weeks and months to determine our best path forward."
It's not immediately clear what the news means for Everest's students. Most have accrued credits towards a diploma or certificate that may no longer exist, spending thousands of dollars in the process.
A provincial fund, known as the Training Completion Assurance Fund, helps provide eligible students with funding towards training completion, or full or partial refunds when this sort of thing happens. But the fund is capped at $3 million.
Eduarda Cabral of Cambridge, Ont., graduated from the college in September. She was enrolled in the personal support worker program and now has two jobs in her field.
Cabral said she was surprised to hear of the sudden closure.
"I finished my work early this morning and I thought well I’m going to visit my teachers here at the college and I walked into the classroom and there were a lot of teary-eyed people," Cabral said.
"They put their own life on hold to get re-educated and to have the ministry come in and decide to suspend all classes, it’s putting everybody’s life on hold."
The college, located at 44 Gaukel St. in downtown Kitchener, offers programs in office administration and health care to its students.