Alan McIsaac

Education Minister Alan McIsaac says government is looking at pooling services to deal with shortage of school psychologists. (CBC)

The government is considering pooling the services of its psychologists as a way to deal with a chronic shortage of school psychologists, P.E.I.'s education minister says.

Alan McIsaac was responding to questions raised in the legislature by independent Progressive Conservative MLA Olive Crane about the wait times for students to receive assessments for learning disabilities. 

The English Language School Board aims to assess all students who were referred prior to March 2011 by the end of this year. That puts the wait list to see a school psychologist for assessment at just under three years.

"It is still a grave concern to us," said McIsaac.

"The numbers are not improving in that way. We find that it's very easy to recruit school psychologists when you are in the Halifax area, the major areas. To get them to step outside, that is not easy to get them to do.

"What we are looking at is working with other departments now like the Department of Health to see if we can pool the resources of the psychologists and so we just draw from one pool," said McIsaac.

The Deputy Minister of Education, Sandy MacDonald, is a certified psychologist. He says pooling services may mean increasing a 10-month contract to a full year for a psychologist working in a government department.

He says the school board and health department have already begun working on the best way to utilize the services they currently have.

MacDonald hopes this will eventually make it easier to attract school psychologists to the province.