TORONTO -- Premier Doug Ford is set to hold his first news conference Monday since the plate-gate fiasco erupted last month, and he will likely address the controversy over the dark blue licence plates that has blindsided the Progressive Conservative government.

The licence plates, which were designed in part by the premier’s office, have been flagged by front-line police officers as difficult to read, prompting the Tory government to all but recall the plates in the face of public safety concerns.

The government initially denied any readability issues with the licence plates before finally admitting the plates were indeed problematic. More than a week after the admission, the government announced it would stop issuing the blue licence plates on March 5, and would revert back to the old white plates that were supposed to be recycled.

The government said the new licence plates would be re-designed and re-introduced in mid-March, but would not confirm whether the blue-on-blue look, which critics say resembles the colour scheme of the Ontario Progressive Conservative party, would be retained.


Once the new plates re-enter the circulation on March 16, the government said drivers who currently have the defective plates affixed to their vehicles will be mailed out instructions on how to replace their plates. Drivers will also receive a new registration sticker in addition to new plates, the government confirmed.

While the government says the cost of the replacement plates will be paid for by 3M Canada – not taxpayers – the true price tag of the issue may never be revealed.

Two senior government sources told CTV News Toronto on Friday that the province signed a non-disclosure agreement with 3M when the two sides inked a deal to correct the defect. The agreement also conceals the reasons behind the problematic plates and where the blame truly lies.

The government has also come under fire for its decision to continue issuing the defective licence plates, despite accepting the criticism from front-line police officers and members of the public that the numbers and letters on the plate turned invisible at night.

Between the time when the government admitted there was a problem on Feb. 20 and when the government announced its next steps on Feb. 28, roughly 22,000 defective licence plates were issued through Service Ontario.

The government said it would continue to issue faulty licence plates until March 5 because the old white-embossed licence plates are in various stages of readiness – from blank aluminum sheets, to partially stamped and labelled, to completed ready-to-use licence plates.

The government said Service Ontario has issued 72,000 of the problematic plates as of Feb. 28, which represents less than one per cent of the 7.6 million registered licence plates currently on the road in Ontario.

On Monday, Ford is expected to make an announcement at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and will take questions from the media for the first time since the scandal first erupted.

While the New Democratic Party has repeatedly tried to grill the premier about the plates during Question Period, Ford has ducked all inquiries – leaving it up to his embattled Minister of Government and Consumer Services Lisa Thompson to field any questions.

Thompson has been shielded from the media ever since Feb. 18, when she defended the plates as readable and called the previous iteration “Liberal licence plates” despite the fact that the previous government never augmented the licence plates during their 15 years in office