Irvin-Ross was born in a small farming community in Saskatchewan, and has a Psychiatric Nursing Diploma as well as a Master's Degree in social work. She has held a variety of jobs in health, education and government. In 1996, Irvin-Ross moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba, where she was employed at the Child Guidance Clinic. A committed community activist, she has taken part in crime-prevention work and youth outreach programs.
In the 2003 provincial election, the top "target seat" for the New Democratic Party was the central Winnipeg riding of Fort Garry, which they had never won before. Irvin-Ross won the NDP's nomination for the riding, and defeated Progressive Conservative incumbent Joy Smith by 3852 votes to 3765 in the general election. She was the Minister responsible for Healthy Living, Seniors, and Healthy Child Manitoba. On November 3, 2009, Kerri Irvin-Ross was appointed to cabinet as the Minister of Housing and Community Development, Minister responsible for Neighbourhoods Alive!; Community Places; and co-operative development.
She was re-elected with a much larger majority in the 2007 provincial election.