Enhanced licence plate in development, Ford government says after admitting visibility issues

By News Staff, The Canadian Press

A day after admitting that Ontario’s new licence plates are plagued by visibility issues, the Ford government says an enhanced plate is currently being developed and should be available in “less than three weeks.”

“We have heard the concerns of Ontarians and have taken their feedback seriously, which is why our government has continued to work with the leadership of 3M Canada to determine a path forward,” read a statement on behalf of the Minister of Government and Consumer Services released late Thursday afternoon. “An enhanced licence plate is currently in development, which we expect to be available in less than 3 weeks, as per 3M Canada’s assurance.”

“For Ontarians who have already received new licence plates, an enhanced version will be provided to them via mail.”

The statement adds the Ontarians will continue to receive the current plate through Service Ontario locations until the enhanced plate becomes available.

Approximately 49,000 of the new plates have been distributed to Ontarians, and an additional 134,000 are currently in Service Ontario locations, the government said.

“We want to reassure Ontarians that the current plate does not pose a risk to public safety,” the Ministry said.

A number of groups have expressed concerns about the impact the problem could have on public safety, including Mothers Against Drunk Driving Canada and the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police.

The CEO of the Ontario Safety League said Thursday the new plates are a public safety issue because police depend on the people using them to identify impaired or dangerous drivers.

“If I can’t read the plate, what really critical information am I going to provide to the police?”‘ Brian Patterson said.

The province should stop issuing the new plates and switch back to the previous design until the problem is solved by 3M, Patterson said.

“I don’t think it’s insurmountable to say, ‘We’re going to stop issuing,'” he said. “I’m sure they have the prior plates available.”

The Progressive Conservatives revealed the new plates in the 2019 budget, saying the government spent $500,000 on a consultation on branding, but had a new contract for licence plate production that saved $4 million.

NDP transportation critic Jennifer French pressed the government during debate Thursday, asking why the faulty plates ended up on the road in the first place and continue to be there.

“Safety should always be a priority, even in the face of exciting new vanity plates,” she said. “Ontarians deserve to know how this happened, what is being done about it and when it will be fixed.”

Consumer Services Minister Lisa Thompson said Wednesday the government has asked 3M Canada to investigate numerous reports that started to surface over the weekend saying the plates are nearly unreadable in the dark.

Thompson had previously defended the plates, saying they had passed rigorous testing, but now acknowledges the government is paying attention to the reports.

3M Canada said it has committed to providing the new enhanced plates to the government so that they can tested by law enforcement.

“We stand behind our products and continue to actively provide solutions to the Ontario government,’ the company said in a statement.

Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report

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