There are more blue license plates on Ontario roads than expected and the government is still working on a plan to replace them, CBC News has learned.
The province says about 193,000 blue plates have been issued and that there are just under 178,000 on the road today. When they were officially scrapped, officials said 145,000 of the plates (all of which appear to be in the CM range) had been distributed.
The government Department of Consumer Affairs declined to provide the current number of plates when CBC News ran an article about the warnings that were ignored when the plates, which cause serious visibility problems under certain lighting conditions, were deployed in 2020.
Look around and it is not difficult to spot the blue plates in road traffic or on the side streets of the city. This reporter also saw them on official city vehicles and Toronto Police SUVs.
After sending a series of follow-up emails on the total number of plates, officials provided the updated figure this week.
The government is still working on a replacement plan
The government has not said when Ontario drivers will be able to replace their blue plates.
“Blue license plates remain valid and our government is developing a process to allow Ontarians to transparently replace them when the time comes,” said Jennifer Lipkus, spokesperson for the Minister of Government and Consumer Services.
“We continue to encourage Ontarians not to come to a ServiceOntario center to exchange their license plates unless they are lost, stolen or damaged.
Lipkus also confirmed that the province received 218,000 plates from the manufacturer, 3M Canada, but not all of them were used.
In September, the government reinstated renewal requirements for driver’s licenses, health cards and license plate stickers, sparking a huge influx of people needing updated documents. There is also a backlog when it comes to road testing.
The blue plaques, which were meant to symbolize a new government of “progress, growth and prosperity,” according to government House leader Paul Calandra, were dropped after much criticism.
Premier Doug Ford, then dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, said he was “just not ready to devote more resources to this” as he ditched the overhaul in favor of classic blue text on white plate design.
The government was immediately criticized for concerns that it would be difficult to see the plates at night when they hit the road.
Ontarians called them “virtually illegible” in documents obtained through an access to information request, and warned that this would make it difficult to report unsafe drivers. Police also warned the government that the plaques posed a risk.
CBC News also found out through the request that the government’s rollout of the plates had left some organizations, including the Canada Border Services Agency, wondering if their technology would work with the blue design. Others recommended adjustments to the design before release, but the government did not follow the advice.