Parents say they’re worried the dispute between Ontario’s government and teachers will affect the school year.

Tuesday marked the first day of school for the vast majority of students, with teachers still upset about a bill that will force them into new labour deal in the name of avoiding a work stoppage.

“There never was a crisis, we were never not going to be there,” said Peter Giuliani of the Ottawa-Carleton Elementary Teachers Federation.

“This is a pre-emptive anti-strike legislation when there was no strike planned, it is flabbergasting.”

“Work to rule” action (performing the bare minimum job duties) is a possibility, as teacher’s union representatives said it’s hard to know how their members will respond.

Parents said they’d be upset if that happened, but some said they’d understand.

“I support teachers’ rights to do what they have to do,” said Marc Carter. “If they’re mistreated they should have some kind of option to stand up for themselves and say ‘No, his isn’t right.’”

“I’m concerned about her education because it could affect her if there’s work to rule,” said Anastasia Hayes of her daughter.

Premier Dalton McGuinty went to a French elementary classroom to defend the wage freeze on Tuesday, the same day ads slamming him appeared in provincial newspapers.

“We want to give our kids more than just a great education, we’d like to hand down to them a strong economy,” he said. “That necessarily entails eliminating the deficit and that entails hitting the pause button on public sector pay.”

When a reporter pointed out that McGuinty doesn’t hold events in public schools anymore because teachers are so mad at him, the premier didn’t disagree.

With a report from CTV Ottawa’s Ellen Mauro