When we discussed the bill the first time around, we talked about associated costs. We haven't come up with a dollar amount. If we do not make any changes to the original bill and go with a maximum limit of $18,000, the only people who really stand to benefit fully from the changes and from the increased contribution room will be those who are already able to contribute $18,000 to an RRSP.
I would argue, Mr. Chairman, that very few Canadians are able to save $36,000 a year. As it now stands, this bill will benefit only the wealthiest people.
I would also point out that if the original bill is not amended, we'll not be dealing with a simple matter of deferring tax, as is the case with RRSPs, but, to all intents and purposes, with a tax exemption issue, The person who will be required to pay tax upon withdrawal will be the student, not the contributor. In most instances, students have very little income, if any, and pay little or no tax. Therefore, we could face a situation where a very wealthy person may have accumulated $100,000 in a child's RESP and, over a period of several years, will have transferred that money to a son or daughter who will pay virtually no tax.
As I see it, the bill, as it now stands, will benefit wealthier families much more than middle class ones. Our amendment would provide an additional benefit to middle class families over and above the money they already receive from the government. The government is planning to increase the limit and that is all well and good. When the ways and means are tabled, we'll have an opportunity to discuss this matter once again, but for now, we're debating the bill based on the current status of the law, not on the basis of hypotheses. We're still in the dark as to the content of the ways and means.
Therefore, I believe our amendment makes this bill very interesting for middle class families. It ensures that wealthier families do not receive any undue advantage and that costs will not be exorbitant. We still don't know how much this initiative will ultimately cost us.