Last Updated: Tuesday - 01/04/2011
May 21, 2001
Klug elected to head national health body
Local psychologist dedicated to Catholic health care
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
ST. JOHN'S, NFLD. — Leo Klug is the new head of the Catholic Health Association of Canada.
The Misericordia Hospital staff psychologist was elected and installed as chair of the CHAC board of directors for a one-year term April 30 at the association's annual convention.
"I'm humbled and honoured by having been chosen for this position," Klug said May 14. "And I very much see it as a honour for Alberta that one of our members is elected into that position."
Klug, who is also chair of the Catholic Health Association of Alberta, is surprised at his election because he doesn't see himself as an out-front leader.
"I'm more of a coaching leader. I'm there encouraging people to use their own gifts," he said. "I'm not the guy out front, breaking trail. I break trail with ideas and with suggestions."
He accepted the position not only because he cares about Catholic health care but also because his employer, the Caritas Health Group, is committed to the cause. "They have encouraged me as their employee to take an interest, to be involved."
As CHAC chair, Klug will work closely with provincial associations to preserve and strengthen Catholic health care.
The CHAC's members include eight provincial associations, 34 sponsors/owners of health care organizations, and 127 hospitals and homes.
"What unifies us right across the country is our commitment to healing ministry of Jesus," said Klug.
Klug won't do "anything dramatic or revolutionary" during his term. "But I will continue looking at some of the faith-based health issues maybe from a new perspective," he says.
His main priority as CHAC chair is "to deepen understanding of health care as ministry." As such, health care should be accessible to all people regardless of their ability to pay, he said. "Health care is ministry, not a commodity to be sold in the marketplace."
His "personal priority" fits in well with the priorities that his organization established for itself, one of which is to continue the fight against privatization.
"We are convinced that the Canadian health care system is the best in the world" despite its flaws, he said. "Our concern is to make sure that it remains true to the principles of the Canada Health Act and that it remains accessible to all Canadians."
At the convention, the CHAC decided to continue its partnership with other health, social and anti-poverty organizations.
The groups want the federal government to develop a comprehensive network of policies aimed at eliminating poverty and the barriers to health experienced by people in poverty.
"Anybody who knows anything about health care knows that a large proportion of our health problems are related to poverty," Klug said. "Poor people have more health problems than rich people."
The CHAC will also press for stronger safeguards for Canada's publicly-funded health care in the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas and for a total ban on human cloning.
Married with two adult children, Klug is a former priest of the Edmonton Archdiocese. Ordained in 1960, he left the priesthood in 1977 disenchanted with the clerical system. "I found that it restricted me too much in terms of what I felt called to do, which is to bring people life," he said.
He took a position as staff psychologist at the Misericordia as soon as he left. "Even when I was still in (the priesthood), health care was my major area of interest," he recalls. His wife Claire is a health care chaplain.
Klug also has a passion for pastoral theology, a topic on which he has been lecturing at Newman Theological College for the past 34 years.
Pretty well everything he has done in the past 25 years is around health care. "That's my ministry," he said.
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