The number of educational psychologists working in P.E.I.'s English language schools this year has been cut almost in half because of people on leave, and that is expected to lead to delays in diagnosis.

Young students believed to have learning disabilities are already having to wait two to three years to see a school psychologist.  Cynthia Fleet, superintendent of the English Language School Board, told CBC News that is just going to get longer.

Attempts to recruit replacement psychologists were unsuccessful.

"We have advertised all summer. We have advertised outside of the province. There is just no response," said Fleet.

"People with this training are in high demand and right now there is a shortage, and we cannot get people to come in and take these temporary assignments."

Five of the board's educational psychologists are on leave this year. Fleet said none of those leaves are connected to stress.

Turning to private care

Even with the current delays, said Fleet, some are paying for private assessments, at an average cost of $2,000.

"It's very unfortunate that parents have to turn to the private sector and pay that amount of money to find out what is the difficulty that the child is experiencing, and therefore what needs to be done," she said.

Fleet is reassuring parents children will get the help they need, saying the school board has hired other trained staff to cover what work they can.