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About 170K drivers still using defective blue licence plates in Ontario

A new Ontario licence plate is seen in this photo. (CTV News Toronto) A new Ontario licence plate is seen in this photo. (CTV News Toronto)

Three years ago, the Ontario government said it would stop issuing its new blue-coloured licence plates due to safety concerns.

But as of January 2023, there are still about 170,000 of those licence plates on the road.

The “A Place To Grow” plates were first introduced in 2019 with the government claiming the redesign reflected “a renewed government promise to put people first in everything it does.”

Officials said the product would last longer as a result of “high-definition” sheeting and that they represented “what good government is all about.”

But soon after their launch, people began to report issues with the new plates. Primarily, drivers noticed they were difficult to read at night.

Photos posted to social media appeared to show the new licence plates reflecting light in a way that made the details almost impossible to read.

After first defending the new plates, the government eventually decided to stop issuing them in February 2020. The following month, the idea of moving forward with a replacement plate was also ditched.

“After thorough testing by law enforcement and other key stakeholders, we are following their advice and will not be moving forward with the new plate for passenger vehicle use,” a statement released by the Premier’s Office in May 2020 read.

Drivers with the defective plates were told they could voluntarily exchange them for an original white “Yours to Discover” licence plate. But it appears the majority of drivers who received the faulty product have not done so.

On Wednesday, officials said that about 193,000 blue licence plates had been issued to drivers prior to that date. Of those, about 170,000 remain in circulation today.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery told CTV News that drivers have been receiving the white plates when they register a new vehicle.

However, the spokesperson also said the blue plates “continue to be valid until further notice.”

CTV News Toronto has asked if there is a plan to make the switch mandatory for drivers but received the same response.

"Blue licence plates continue to be valid until further notice."

In previous years, the government has said the pandemic has taken much of their efforts away from the file. Brian Patterson, CEO of the Ontario Safety League, says that while he is sure it’s on the ministry’s to-do list, it shouldn’t be difficult to send those 170,000 drivers a letter asking them to make the exchange.

“I don't know how many plate replacements they do in a year normally but I think this will be … completely doable,” he said.

“I think there's just been lots on the agenda for the last couple of years. But I would I'd like to see certainly a detailed plan as we go into the summer.”

He said he worries the people using the reflective plates may think it’s a “get-out-of-jail-free card.”

“I think that's the that's a concern of the police, that somebody can't accurately report an impaired driver because they can't provide the licence plate information at a safe distance.” Top Stories

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