With growing economic uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic, the financial landscape is shifting every day.

Whether it's dealing with sudden unemployment, ballooning debt, or expenses related to working from home, BNN Bloomberg wants to help Canadians navigate these uncharted waters.

That’s why we created Ask BNN Bloomberg, where you can have your personal finance questions answered by industry professionals.

Questions and answers have been edited for clarity. Last names will not be used.

Eligibility concerns for CEBA

Lindsay in Calgary:

I am a small business owner and want to apply for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), however I was on maternity leave for part of 2019 and therefore don’t meet the $20,000 minimum requirement income threshold - can I still receive CEBA? (June 8, 2020)

Kelley Keehn, consumer advocate at FP Canada:

Eligibility concerns for CEBA

Kelley Keehn, consumer advocate at FP Canada, answers a small business owner’s question on qualifying for the Canada Emergency Business Account.

Lindsay there may be some good news for you because as of June 26, the government of Canada expanded the CEBA program for those who paid employment income of $20,000 or less in 2019. You can find all of that information at Canada.ca.

Now you’re going to need a CRA business number and proof that you filed your tax return in 2018 or 2019. You’re also going to have to prove that you have $40,000 at least, or more, of non-deductible expenses in 2020; that can be utilities, payroll, rent, things of that sort.

You’re going to need to apply for your financial institution, so reach out to them because you’ll also need to have a business chequing or savings account; they can help you further identify the criteria, what you will have to upload to prove to the government of Canada you are eligible before you see your funds within around seven days.

So reach out to your banker, get on your app to actually have them call you back to save some wait times, and if you need more help reach out to your tax advisor or someone like a certified financial planner. (July 8, 2020)

How can gas prices be so much higher than the cost of oil?

Brian in Cudworth, Sask.:

Could BNN Bloomberg please take the time to explain how gas companies are getting away with gouging the Canadian consumers with high fuel prices i.e. 106 per litre, when the price of a barrel is approximately $40?

These are the prices we paid when a barrel was over $100. The high price is obviously not going to the refinery workers since they are being laid off across the country.

To a layman this looks like the CEOs are padding their pockets. (July 9, 2020)

Roger McKnight, chief petroleum analyst at En-Pro International

I believe much of the consternation and confusion over pump prices can be attributed to the fact that all petroleum products are traded in U.S. dollars.

Today’s West Texas Intermediate (WTI) at US$40 converts to $54 per barrel (/bbl). When crude was at US$100 this meant $109/bbl.

So higher crude costs are cushioned by our petro loonie but we feel it when the Canadian dollar is weak. When crude was US$100 on July 30, 2014, the pump price wasn’t $1.06 but $1.34 per litre.

Also, at that time the refining margin was 25 cents per litre (cpl). This has fallen to 18 cpl today. The carbon tax has increased overall taxes from 40 to 46 cpl. And the retailer? His gross margin has stayed the same for six years at 7.2 cpl.

From this, it seems that it’s governments at all levels that are padding their pockets with taxes while magically emptying ours. (July 13, 2020)

Can I apply for CERB after moving to the U.S. for school?

Garrett in Los Angeles, previously from Vancouver:

I moved down to the USA just before the pandemic but still hold my Vancouver residence. I am here pursuing an education in aviation and a career in comedy which is how I attained a green card. All my world is gone and will remain this way for some time.  I’m wondering, am I allowed to collect CERB while down here if I only just moved and still have my Canadian address? I’m really struggling but don’t want to break any rules. (July 9, 2020)

Jordan Damiani, senior wealth advisor at Meridian Credit Union:

Can I apply for CERB after moving to the U.S. for education?

Jordan Damiani, senior wealth advisor at Meridian Credit Union, discusses what financial aid packages you may be eligible for, if you’re going to school abroad.

Thanks for the question. I’m sorry to hear that you’re struggling given that you’re in the U.S. trying to better yourself through higher education.

With respect to CERB eligibility, unfortunately one of the key criteria is that you do have to be living or residing in Canada to receive it. Having said that, there’s a dizzying array of government programs out there designed to help Canadians with the impact of COVID-19 and there likely is a program that you’re eligible for.

The Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) is open to students studying both in Canada and abroad. It pays $1,250 for every rolling four-week period and is still slated to run until August 29.

You mention that you’re in the U.S. studying aviation, and as long as that program is a minimum of 12 weeks in length and results in a degree, diploma or certificate, it might be CESB eligible.

The way to double check this is through the government of Canada website and there’s a master list of all the designated and certified educational institutions that do qualify for the CESB. Hopefully this information helps and I do wish you all the best. (July 13, 2020)

To have your personal finance question answered an industry professional, send an email to askbnnbloomberg@bellmedia.ca.