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Liberal Senator Joyce Fairbairn (second from left) is taking an extended sick leave and will not be present when the Senate resumes sitting next month. She's seen here with her Alberta caucus colleagues Senators Tommy Banks (now retired), Grant Mitchell and Claudette Tardif. (Senate of Canada website)

A Liberal senator is going on extended sick leave and will not be present when proceedings resume this fall.

Sen. Joyce Fairbairn, 73, is only two years away from the mandatory retirement age of 75.

A spokesman for the Opposition leader in the Senate, Sen. James Cowan, says Fairbairn faces health challenges, but wouldn't elaborate on what they are.

The former journalist worked in the office of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau for 14 years before she was appointed to the Senate in 1984.

In addition to her Senate duties, she has been active in supporting the Paralympics and became Chair of the Canadian Paralympic Foundation in 2003.