The Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities said Thursday that it was suspending the chain's licence to operate as a private college anywhere in Ontario, effective immediately.
The ministry "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," the ministry said in a statement.
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 added: "This means that all instruction at Everest College of Canada campuses is terminated effective today."
The National Association Of Career Colleges, an Ottawa-based non-profit association that represents 500 career colleges and technical schools across Canada, said it hopes to work with the province to limit the damage to students.
“This is an unfortunate situation for students and employees," NACC's chief executive Serge Buy said. "We are confident that plans prepared by the Ontario government and supported by our sector will mitigate any impact on students."
It's not immediately clear what the news means for any of Everest's thousands of students across the province, most of who have accrued credits towards a degree that now may no longer exist, not to mention having spent thousands of dollars to pursue their education. But the provincial government does have a fund, known as the Training Completion Assurance Fund, which helps provide eligible students with funding towards training completion, or full or partial refunds.
For more information on the program, the province says affected students should call (416) 314-0500 or toll free 1-866-330-3395.
Everest offers degrees in programs such as law enforcement, dental assistants, child care, massage therapy and esthetics at the following 14 locations across the province:- Sudbury.
- Ottawa (two locations).
- Hamilton (two locations).
- Toronto (three locations).
The school is owned by U.S.-based Corinthian Colleges Inc., which was a Nasdaq-listed public company until it was delisted this month for failing to file financial information with regulators in a timely manner.
That came after allegations of falsified job placement and grade data last year led Corinthian to agree to shut down and sell numerous locations as part of a deal with U.S. lawmakers.