Questions raised about school psychologist shortage in P.E.I.

Teresa Wright
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Education Minister Alan McIsaac

The shortfall of psychologists in P.E.I. schools is due to a shortage of these health professionals across the region, says Education Minister Alan McIsaac.

The issue was raised in the P.E.I. legislature this afternoon when Opposition MLA James Aylward questioned McIsaac on what he is doing to address this situation.

He pointed out half of the psychologists working for the English Language School Board went on leave at the beginning of the school year, leaving only five psychologists to meet the needs of over 13,000 students.

“This has contributed to anywhere from a two-to-three year wait list for a child in our education system to have an assessment done,” Aylward said.

“Why have you created this crisis in our school system?”

McIsaac said this is an issue facing all Atlantic provinces, as there is a shortage of psychologists across the region. This has led to shortfalls and extended waiting times not only in education, but also in mental health and justice.

“I don’t think we need the scare tactics (Aylward) is putting forward, we are working with every child at the present time with the staff we have.”

McIsaac said the department is trying to fill the current vacancies with term positions and is working hard to recruit more psychologists. In the meantime, the school board is utilizing school counsellors to help any child who needs additional support.

But Aylward said he does not believes neither the minister nor the department are doing enough to try to bring more psychologists to Prince Edward Island and address the long waiting times for children who need psychological assessments.

“You have a responsibility to ensure Island students have access to the supports they need,” he said.

“Your government has no problem finding money for big parties, liquor stores, breweries, gambling and then shortchanges our Island students.”

twright@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/GuardianTeresa

Organizations: English Language School Board

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island

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Recent comments

  • Education availability and wages are the answer
    December 01, 2013 - 21:15

    Students striving to become school psychologists are forced to leave the island for their studies. When they leave and finish their education and see that other provinces pay the school psychologists thousands of dollars more than the ones on PEI why would they return? Give students options to study this field on PEI and give the incoming psychologists the benefits they deserve.

  • Where does the problem lie?
    November 27, 2013 - 07:02

    The call for accountability doesn't imply ineptitude on the part of psychologists. It does show a lack of reporting to both clients and funding agencies. Evidence suggests that Education Minister Alan McIsaac doesn't seem to care about this information gap. This lack of accountability does imply McIsaac's ineptitude; it's his performance that should be a problem - for all Islanders.

  • Zero Accountability
    November 26, 2013 - 18:24

    As usual, James Aylward is asking the easy and wrong questions. Tax-payers are putting out huge funds for the psychologists we do employ. Where is the reporting on the effectiveness of this type of intervention? There is none - why not?

    • john doe
      November 26, 2013 - 21:36

      Apparantly the money and number of psychologists is not enough. Results speak for themselves. Maybe if government put the money they are spending in other non-necessary areas and place their investment in education and health care we would all be better off.