Infamous blue licence plates cost more too: CTF

Documents suggest the blue plates cost 94 cents more to produce than the old white-on-blue ones

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The Doug Ford government’s failed experiment with two-tone blue licence plates dinged taxpayers for almost $240,000, the Canadians Taxpayer Federation (CTF) says.

That figure represents the difference in cost between the old white and blue licence plates and the new blue ones.

CTF Interim Ontario Director Jay Goldberg said Ford told the Ontario legislature that the new plates wouldn’t cost the province an extra penny.

“However, the government never released the cost,” Goldberg said Wednesday.

“We’ve been working on Freedom of Information requests to find out exactly how much the cost was, to see if Premier Ford was right in saying that it wouldn’t cost any more money, and what we found is it cost a heck of a lot more.”

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The blue plates were first unveiled at the release of the Ford government’s 2019 budget, and political opponents quickly noted the similarity with the PC party’s colours.

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“Are they all Doug Ford vanity plates?” Liberal MPP John Fraser quipped in February 2020 when the plates began appearing on vehicles.

Police officers soon chimed in with safety concerns that the plates were virtually unreadable in some lighting conditions.

The government should have conducted a pilot to ensure the product was safe rather than rushing it onto the streets, Goldberg said.

“Premier Ford insisted that we had to pursue getting new licence plates with a new design even though there didn’t seem to be anything wrong with the old ones,” he said. “Ultimately they were scrapped.”

As criticisms mounted, the Ford government stopped the rollout of the new plates and returned to the traditional white and blue plate although many vehicles still carry the two-tone blue version.

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FOI documents indicated the blue plates cost 94 cents more each to produce than their predecessors — $4.54 to $3.60 — requiring taxpayers to spend an extra $238,621, the CTF says.

“In the era of COVID and big government spending, $238,000 to some doesn’t sound like a lot of money but obviously wasteful projects that governments come up with, they certainly add up,” Goldberg said.

“This was something we didn’t have to do.”

The Ford government has indicated that it is still considering changing the licence plate, so it’s important to note the difference in cost between the two plates, he said.

“Let’s stick with the ones we have,” he said. “We don’t need to see part two of the Ford government coming up with a new licence plate.”

A response from the Ford government was not immediately available.

The government said prior to halting the initiative that the new high-definition plates were successfully tested using advanced plate reader technology under multiple visibility conditions.

aartuso@postmedia.com

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