The premier’s office is now admitting that there are in fact visibility issues with the new Ontario licence plates and is vowing to work with the manufacturer to fix the problem.
The province has come out in defence of the new licence plates in recent days and in an apparent about-face on Wednesday, the premier’s office acknowledged the issues, telling CTV News Toronto that they are “frustrated” by the situation.
Over the past week, several people, including police officers, have flagged problems with the licence plates, posting images online to show how difficult the plates can be to read in the dark.
The Canadian chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving also called on the province Wednesday to review the plates in light of the issues that have been identified.
“The night-time visibility issues with the new licence plates being reported by police and the public is a very serious concern,” the organization said in a statement to CTV News Toronto.
“The ability to clearly see the licence plates is obviously crucial if people need to call police to report suspected impaired drivers, or other dangerous drivers.”
Has anyone else noticed that the newly designed @ONgov license plates are totally unreadable from distance at night? Submitted screen grab taken from a 1080P dash camera. Could be an issue for GTA police forces in the future. pic.twitter.com/EN4hvoTYBL— Andrew Collins (@ACollinsPhoto) February 15, 2020
The city's photo radar and red light cameras also have trouble reading the words "Ontario" on the new plate, a city spokeperson told CTV News Toronto.
"For an officer to lay a charge under the highway traffic act, they need to be able to identify the jurisdiction from which that vehicle came," the spokesperson said.
Speaking in the legislature on Wednesday, Lisa Thompson, the minister of Government and Consumer Services, said the province has "heard the concerns" of the public and is "listening."
"We are continuing to work with the manufacturer, our stakeholders, and the public to get this right,” she said.
The new plates, which have a blue background and white lettering, were designed and manufactured by 3M Canada.
They were first made available at the beginning of this month and the province previously said that they featured “high definition sheeting that is stronger and longer lasting” than the old plates.
The province has asserted that key stakeholders, including law enforcement partners, were consulted to test the plate’s “readability, reflectivity and functionality.”
In the statement issued earlier this week, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services noted that the plates were tested “using advanced plate reader technology under multiple visibility conditions” and were read in every situation.
Thompson defended the plates at Queen’s Park on Tuesday, telling reporters that the plates are “actually very readable.”
“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 added.
The premier’s office told CTV News Toronto Wednesday that they were given assurances that the plates had been tested and they have raised the issue with 3M in an effort to resolve the situation.
"Premier Ford has personally spoken to the President of 3M on two separate occasions seeking an immediate solution to the issues identified with their product. The Government of Ontario expects 3M to stand by their product," the premier's office said.
In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, 3M said it is working with the province and the plate manufacturer to address concerns with the licence plates.
"At 3M we are focused on applying our innovation and technology and are committed to working together with all stakeholders during design, testing, and deployment. We stand behind our products and are actively provided solutions to the Ontario Government to address the readability issue as quickly as possible."
-With files from CTV News Toronto's Colin D'Mello