The Ontario government says the province’s new, defective licence plates will be replaced “at no cost” to taxpayers.
The government said they are working alongside manufacturer 3M to resolve the low-light visibility issues that were raised earlier this month and have “reached a resolution to this matter” to ensure taxpayers don’t foot the bill for the mistake.
“We take these concerns seriously and together have put a plan in place to deliver an enhanced new plate,” Lisa Thompson, minister of government and consumer services, said in a statement Friday morning.
“3M Canada is providing material to the province and testing is being completed by law enforcement and key stakeholders. Manufacturing of the new enhanced plates is expected to begin within two weeks and they will be distributed shortly afterwards.”
Despite a problem being identified with the new plates, they have continued to be distributed to drivers, but officials said that will end on Wednesday. On Thursday, remaining white plates will be issued instead.
The fixed plates are expected to start being distributed the week of March 16, but only after all remaining white plates have been distributed.
“For almost two weeks now, the Ford government has knowingly issued tens of thousands of defective blue licence plates, and announced today that it will continue issuing the faulty plates for another week,” Jennifer French, the NDP transportation and highways critic, said in a statement.
“This never should have happened. It was clear from the beginning that the new blue plates were unsafe, but the Ford Conservatives have chosen to put public safety at risk.”
The government, however, has maintained the plates do “not pose a safety risk.”
The problem with the new plates was first raised earlier this month when an off-duty Kingston police officer tweeted a photo of an unreadable plate in a well-lit parking lot.
The government later admitted the plates were defective and would need to be replaced.
“Are the licence plates a problem? Absolutely,” House leader Paul Calandra previously said.
“We procured something from 3M, we expect them to fix the problem. We bought something and we want them to fix it.”
Around 79,000 of the new plates have already been distributed to drivers in the province.
They will be receiving a letter in the mail laying out steps to get replacement plates. The faulty plates are slated to be recycled.
The new design was first announced in the 2019 budget when the government said they spent $500,000 on a branding consultation, but had a new contract for licence plate production that saved $4 million.
– With files from the Canadian Press