Former Alberta premier Ed Stelmach is now leading a Catholic health organization with an $800 million budget.

Stelmach, who served as Progressive Conservative premier from 2006 to 2011, is the chairman of the board of Covenant Health.

Covenant Health operates 17 facilities in 12 communities, including hospitals and continuing care homes.

Stelmach says Covenant Health is a vital part of Alberta's health-care system and he wants to help it provide more acute and continuing care and mental health services.

He says he remembers when nurses in a Catholic hospital cared for him for months when he was a young boy.

Covenant Health appointed Stelmach to the post in October and he began his duties last month.

Stelmach said the Alberta government needs partners like Covenant Health to ensure the long-term sustainability of the health-care system.

"I am always convinced that, while government sets direction, they do need partners to help. Government can't do it alone and will never be able to do it alone," he said Tuesday in a release.

"The story of Catholic health care is a story of faith, courage, compassion and astute leadership," he said. "It's not a story of religion or politics."