Ontario is investigating complaints that its new licence plates have a defect that makes them difficult to read in low light, but the minister responsible for the new models says they passed all government testing.
Consumer Services Minister Lisa Thompson’s office said Tuesday the province is looking into complaints about the new plates, which were just introduced weeks ago.
But the minister insisted that the plates are fine, in spite of complaints that emerged on social media over the weekend that they have a defect.
“I can assure you that we have been exhaustive with our testing,” Thompson said. “We have tested in terms of readability, reflectivity and durability on a whole host of weather conditions and they passed.”
The problem was first raised over the weekend on social media by an off-duty Kingston police officer who posted a picture of a plate in what he called a “relatively well-lit parking lot.”
“Did anyone consult with police before designing and manufacturing the new Ontario licence plates?” Sgt. Steve Koopman wrote. “They’re virtually unreadable at night.”
The province unveiled the new plates last year, to replace an earlier version plagued by a defect that saw them peel and become difficult to read. The government said it had resolved the problem and would now guarantee the plates for life.
“The new licence plate is a … materially enhanced, effective product that will last longer for Ontarians,” Government Services Minister Bill Walker said at the time. “The plate will feature high-definition sheeting that is stronger and longer-lasting than Ontario’s current licence plate technology.”
The government also unveiled the licence slogan on commercial plates would be “Open For Business” – the same slogan used by Premier Doug Ford’s government dating back to the election campaign last year – while the passenger plate slogan would be “A Place To Grow.”
On Tuesday, Thompson slammed the “flaking and peeling Liberal plates” and accused the previous government of not acting to solve the problem.
“We have gone through a rigorous testing program with our stakeholders to ensure that the new plates for Ontario are durable and are absolutely reflecting the key information that the people need to be seeing,” she said. “They are actually very readable.”
Thompson said the government takes the feedback from drivers and law enforcement officials seriously and is investigating the complaints.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said the government needs to do more to address the issue, which she said could affect the ability of police to respond to incidents involving impaired drivers or Amber Alerts.
“They goofed this up pretty bad, it’s pretty obvious,” she said. “They should take some responsibility for what they’ve done and ensure that we have licence plates that people can see.”